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"nw New Yori; 
PubTic Ubrap' 




A very picture of Rcnlie despair. 


\ ]'■ I ■'•. N ■ > '-\ ' •• 

■ ■ I 

, . -MX'-.. I 

.-, . i ' :■ ^^" ■ ■ 











AMl^ll. Li* .■ ''■ 
B 1944 L 






To the Memory of the Child 

Nada Huknham, 

who "bound all to her" and, while her father cut his 
way through the hordes of the Ingobo Regiment, perished 
of the hardships of war at Huluwayo on 19th May, 1896, 
I dedicate these tales— and more particularly the last, that 
of a Faith which triumphed over savagery and death. 

H. KiuBK Haggard. 



Of the three stories that comprise this volume, one, 
** The Wizard," a tale of victorious faith, first 
appeared some years ago as a Christmas Annual. 
Another, ** Elissa," is an attempt, difficult enough 
owing to the scantiness of the material left to us by 
time, to recreate the life of the ancient Phoenician 
Zimbabwe, whose ruins still stand in Rhodesia, and, 
with the addition of the necessary love story, to 
suggest circumstances such as might have brought 
about or accompanied its fall at the hands of the 
surrounding savage tribes. The third, ** Black Heart 
and White Heart," is a story of the courtship, trials 
and final union of a pair of Zulu lovers in the time of 
King Cetywayo. 




I. Philip Haduen and King Cetywayo i 

II. The Bek Prophesies la 

III. The End of the Hunt 23 

IV. Nanea 34 

V. The Doom Pool 46 

VI. The Ghost of the Dead 54 



I. The Caravan 69 

II. The Grove of Baaltis 75 

III. Ithobal the King 87 

IV. The Dream of Issachar 97 

V. The Place of Sacrifice 108 

VI. The Hall of Audience 117 

VII. The Black Dwarf 129 

VIII. Aziel Plights His Troth 139 

IX. Greeting to the Baaltis 151 

X. The Embassy 161 

XI. Metem Sbli^ Images 171 

XII. The Tryst 180 

XIII. The Sacrilege of .Aziel 187 

XIV. The Martyrdom of Issachar 198 

XV. Elissa Takes Sanctuary 208 

XVI. The Cage of Death 217 

XVII. "There is Hope" 227 



I. The Deputation 233 

II. Thomas Owen 239 

III. The Temptation 244 

IV. The Vision ^«ji 



■ • 



V. The Feast of the First Fruits 

VI. The Drinking of the Cuf 
VII. The Recovery op the King 

VIII. The First Trial by Fire 
IX. The Crisis .... 
X. The Second Trial by Fire 
XI. The Wisdom of the Dead 
XII. The Message of Hokosa 

XIII. The Basket of Fruit 

XIV. The Eating of the Fruit 
XV. Noma comes to Hafela. 

XVI. The Repentance of Hokosa 
XVII. The Loosing of Noma 
XVIII. The Passing of Owen 
XIX. The Fall of the Grkat Place 
XX. Noma Skts a Snake. 
XXI. Hokosa is Lifted Up 
XXII. The Victory of the Cross 













A VERY PICTURE OK GENTLE DESPAIR (j**^ /o^«' 34) . Fnmtispiece 

Philip Haddrn was Jl transport-rider and a trader 

IN "the Zulu" Pacing page i 

"O Black Heart and body that is white and beauti- 
ful, I look into your heart" ,, 18 

Already his finger was contracting on the trigokr ,, 30 

"Black Heart, you seem to have won the day" t. 51 

So HE Kl-ED straight ON ,. 6l 


"Tell me, Metem, . . . what mummery is this?" ,, 105 

"Doom is upon you!" ,,112 

"Away with you, woman'* ,,113 

"The arrow is poisoned" ,,136 

•*Thk trees in this camp of yours bear evil fruit, 

O King" ,,146 

"I will do sacrifice" .,196 

"In . . . front walked Elissa" ., ao8 

"1 HAVE kept faith, KEEP IT AI^SO, AZIKL" ... ,, 230 


Half-an-hour later John stands before him . . ,, 245 

Was it a swoon or sleep ,, 252 

The repudiation op Noma «« yi6 

"Peace!" said Owen „ aV» 



•' Behold the God " . 

Killed it by repeated klows . 

The second trial by fire . 

"Hearken to your fate, Hokosa** 

"Come back." hk said, "and listen** 

Noma idly employed in stringing beads 

While she watched him curioisly 

Owen eats the fruit . 

"Now curse me, and let me go" 

"Look your last on me" . 

The passing of Owen . 

Hokosa on the wall . 

Hafela the prince, and at his side 

Hokosa is taken .... 

Hokosa is lifted up . . . 


Facing page 292 







Pl-liLlC I.miLAttY 

Philip Hadden was a (canspoit-rider and a tradei in "the Zulu". 




At the date of our introduction to him, Philip Hadden was 
a transport-rider and a trader in *' the Zulu ". Still on the 
right side of forty, in appearance he was singularly hand- 
some; tall, dark, upright, with keen eyes, short-pointed 
beard, curling hair and clear-cut features. His life had been 
varied, and there were passages in it which he did not narrate 
even to his most intimate friends. He was of gentle birth, 
however, and it was said that he had received a public school 
and university education in England. At any rate he could 
quote the classics with aptitude on occasion, an accomplish- 
ment which, coupled with his refined voice and a bearing not 
altogether common in the wild places of the world, had 
earned for him among his rough companions the soubriquet 
of "The Prince". 

However these things may have been, it is certain that he 
had emigrated to Natal under a cloud, and equally certain 
that his relatives at home were content to take no further 
interest in his fortunes. During the fifteen or sixteen years 
which he had spent in or about the colony, Hadden fol- 
lowed many trades, and did no good at any of them. A 
clever man, of agreeable and prepossessing mauuei^Vv^ Avi^-^^ 


found it easy to form friendships and to secure a fresh start 
in life. But, by degrees, the friends were seized with a 
vague distrust of him ; and, after a period of more or less 
application, he himself would close the opening that he had 
made by a sudden disappearance from the locality, leaving 
behind him a doubtful reputation and some bad debts. 

Before the beginning of this story of the most remarkable 
episodes in his life, Philip Hadden was engaged for several 
years in transport-riding — that is, in carrying goods on ox 
waggons from Durban or Maritzburg to various points in the 
interior. A difficulty such as had more than once confronted 
him in the course of his career, led to his temporary abandon- 
ment of this means of earning a livelihood. On arriving at 
the little frontier town of Utrecht in the Transvaal, in charge 
of two waggon loads of mixed goods consigned to a store- 
keeper there, it was discovered that out of six cases of brandy 
five were missing from his waggon. Hadden explained 
the matter by throwing the blame upon his Kaffir ** boys," 
but the storekeeper, a rough-tongued man, openly called him 
a thief and refused to pay the freight on any of the load. 
From words the men came to blows, knives were drawn, 
and before anybody could interfere the storekeeper received 
a nasty wound in his side. That night, without waiting till 
the matter could be inquired into by the landdrost or magis- 
trate, Hadden slipped away, and trekked back into Natal as 
quickly as his oxen would travel. Feeling that even here he 
was not safe, he left one of his waggons at Newcastle, loaded 
up the other with Kaffir goods — such as blankets, calico, and 
hardware — and crossed into Zululand, where in those days 
no sheriffs officer would be likely to follow him. 

Being well acquainted with the language and customs of 
the natives, he did good trade with them, and soon found 
himself possessed of some cash and a small herd of cattle, 
which he received in exchange for his wares. Meanwhile 
news reached him that the man whom he had injured still 
vowed vengeance against him, and was in communication 



with the authorities in Natal. These reasons making his 
return to civilisation undesirable for the moment, and further 
business being impossible until he could receive a fresh 
supply of trade stuff, Hadden like a wise man turned his 
thoughts to pleasure. Sending his cattle and waggon over 
the border to be left in charge of a native headman with 
whom he was friendly, he went on foot to Ulundi to obtain 
permission from the king, Cetywayo, to hunt game in his 
country. Somewhat to his surprise, the Indunas or head- 
men, received him courteously — for Hadden's visit took place 
within a few months of the outbreak of the Zulu war in 
1878, when Cetywayo was already showing unfriendliness 
to the English traders and others, though why the king did 
so they knew not. 

On the occasion of his first and last interview with Cety- 
wayo, Hadden got a hint of the reason. It happened thus. 
On the second morning after his arrival at the royal kraal, 
a messenger came to inform him that ** the Elephant 
whose tread shook the earth " had signified that it was 
his pleasure to see him. Accordingly he was led through 
the thousands of huts and across the Great Place to the 
little enclosure where Cetywayo, a royal-looking Zulu seated 
on a stool, and wearing a kaross of leopard skins, was 
holding an indaha, or conference, surrounded by his counsel- 
lors. The Induna who had conducted him to the august 
presence went down upon his hands and knees, and, uttering 
the royal salute of Bayete, crawled forward to announce that 
the white man was waiting. 

" Let him wait," said the king angrily ; and, turning, 
he continued the discussion with his counsellors. 

Now, as has been said, Hadden thoroughly understood 
Zulu ; and, when from time to time the king raised his voice, 
some of the words he spoke reached his ear. 

** What ! " Cetywayo said, to a wizened and aged man 
who seemed to be pleading with him earnestly ; ** BlIvv V ^ 
dog that these white hyenas should hunt me Owi^'i \^two\. 


the land mine, and was it not my father's before me ? Are 
not the people mine to save or to slay ? I tell you that I 
will stamp out these little white men ; my impis shall eat 
them up. I have said ! '* 

Again the withered aged man interposed, evidently in the 
character of a peacemaker. Hadden could not hear his talk, 
but he rose and pointed towards the sea, while from his 
expressive gestures and sorrowful mien, he seemed to be 
prophesying disaster should a certain course of action be 

For a while the king listened to him, then he sprang from 
his seat, his eyes literally ablaze with rage. 

" Hearken," he cried to the counsellor ; " I have guessed it 


for long, and now I am sure of it. You are a traitor. You 
are Sompseu's ^ dog, and the dog of the Natal Government, 
and I will not keep another man's dog to bite me in my 
own house. Take him away ! '* 

A slight involuntary murmur rose from the ring of 
ittdunas, but the old man never flinched, not even when 
the soldiers, who presently would murder him, came and 
seized him roughly. For a few seconds, perhaps five, he 
covered his face with the comer of the kaross he wore, 
then he looked up and spoke to the king in a clear voice. 

" O King," he said, ** I am a very old man ; as a youth I 
served under Chaka the Lion, and I heard his dying prophecy 
of the coming of the white man. Then the white men came, 
and I fought for Dingaan at the battle of the Blood River. 
They slew Dingaan, and for many years I was the counsellor 
of Panda, your father. I stood by you, O King, at the battle 
of the Tugela, when its grey waters were turned to red with 
the blood of Umbulazi your brother, and of the tens of 
thousands of his people. Afterwards I became your coun- 
sellor, O King, and I was with you when Sompseu set the 
crown upon your head and you made promises to Sompseu — 
promises that you have not kept. Now you are weary of 

' Sir Theophilus Shepstone*8. 


me, and it is well ; for I am very old, and doubtless my talk 
is foolish, as it chances to the old. Yet I think that the 
prophecy of Chaka, your great-uncle, will come true, and 
that the white men will prevail against you and that through 
them you shall find your death. I would that I might have 
stood in one more battle and fought for you, O King, since 
fight you will, but the end which you choose is for me the 
best end. Sleep in peace, O King, and farewell. Bayite ! " * 

For a space there was silence, a silence of expectation 
while men waited to hear the tyrant reverse his judgment. 
But it did not please him to be merciful, or the needs of 
policy outweighed his pity. 

" Take him away," he repeated. Then, with a slow smile 
on his face and one word, ** Good-night," upon his lips, sup- 
ported by the arm of a soldier, the old warrior and statesman 
shuffled forth to the place of death. 

Hadden watched and listened in amazement not unmixed 
with fear. ** If he treats his own servants like this, what 
will happen to me ? " he reflected. " We English must 
have fallen out of favour since I left Natal. I wonder 
whether he means to make war on us or what ? If so, this 
isn't my place." 

Just then the king, who had been gazing moodily at the 
ground, chanced to look up. *' Bring the stranger here," he 

Hadden heard him, and coming forward offered Cetywayo 
his hand in as cool and nonchalant a manner as he could 

Somewhat to his surprise it was accepted. ** At least. 
White Man," said the king, glancing at his visitor's tall 
spare form and cleanly cut face, ** you are no * umfagozan * 
(low fellow); you are of the blood of chiefs." 

" Yes, King," answered Hadden, with a little sigh, " I 
am of the blood of chiefs." 

" What do you want in my country, White Man ? " 

^ The royal salute of the Zulus. 


" Very little, King. I have been trading here, as I daresay 
you have heard, and have sold all my goods. Now I ask 
your leave to hunt buffalo, and other big game, for a while 
before I return to Natal." 

** I cannot grant it," answered Cetywayo, ** you are a spy 
sent by Sompseu, or by the Queen's Induna in Natal. Get 
you gone." 

<' Indeed," said Hadden, with a shrug of his shoulders ; 
" then I hope that Sompseu, or the Queen's Induna, or both 
of them, will pay me when I return to my own country. 
Meanwhile I will obey you because I must, but I should 
first like to make you a present." 

** What present ? " asked the king. ** I want no presents. 
We are rich here, White Man." 

" So be it. King. It was nothing worthy of your taking, 
only a rifle." 

" A rifle, White Man ? Where is it ? " 

** Without. I would have brought it, but your servants 
told me that it is death to come armed before the ' Elephant 
who shakes the Earth '." 

Cetywayo frowned, for the note of sarcasm did not escape 
his quick ear. 

** Let this white man's offering be brought ; I will con- 
sider the thing." 

Instantly the Induna who had accompanied Hadden 
darted to the gateway, running with his body bent so low 
that it seemed as though at every step he must fall upon his 
face. Presently he returned with the weapon in his hand 
and presented it to the king, holding it so that the muzzle 
was pointed straight at the royal breast. 

" I crave leave to say, O Elephant," remarked Hadden in 
a drawling voice, ** that it might be well to command your 
servant to lift the mouth of that gun from your heart." 

" Why ? " asked the king. 

" Only because it is loaded, and at full cock, O Elephant, 
who probably desires to continue to shake the Earth." 


At these words the " Elephant " uttered a sharp exclama- 
tion, and rolled from his stool in a most unkingly manner, 
whilst the terrified Induna, springing backwards, contrived 
to touch the trigger of the rifle and discharge a bullet through 
the exact spot that a second before had been occupied by his 
monarch's head. 

" Let him be taken away," shouted the incensed king 
from the ground, but long before the words had passed his 
lips the Induna, with a cry that the gun was bewitched, 
had cast it down and fled at full speed through the gate. 

** He has already taken himself away," suggested Hadden, 
while the audience tittered. *' No, King, do not touch it 

rashly ; it is a repeating rifle. Look " and lifting the 

Winchester, he fired the four remaining shots in quick suc- 
cession into the air, striking the top of a tree at which he 
aimed with every one of them. 

" WoWf it is wonderful ! " said the company in astonish- 

'* Has the thing finished ? " asked the king. 

** For the present it has," answered Hadden. ** Look 
at it." 

Cetywayo took the repeater in his hand, and examined it 
with caution, swinging the muzzle horizontally in an exact 
line with the stomachs of some of his most eminent Indunas, 
who shrank to this side and that as the barrel was brought 
to bear upon them. 

** See what cowards they are, White Man," said the king 
with indignation ; " they fear lest there should be another 
bullet in this gun." 

** Yes," answered Hadden, ** they are cowards indeed. I 
believe that if they were seated on stools they would tumble 
off them as it chanced to your Majesty to do just now." 

** Do you understand the making of guns, White Man ? " 
asked the king hastily, while the Indunas one and all turned 
their heads, and contemplated the fence behind them. 

" No, King, I cannot make guns, but 1 catv m^tv^ xJcv^xcv'" 


" If I paid you well, White Man, would you stop here 
at my kraal, and mend guns for me ? " asked Cetywayo 

" It might depend on the pay," answered Hadden ; ** but 
for awhile I am tired of work, and wish to rest. If the king 
gives me the permission to hunt for which I asked, and men 
to go with me, then when I return perhaps we can bargain 
on the matter. If not, I will bid the king farewell, and 
journey to Natal." 

" In order to make report of what he has seen and learned 
here," muttered Cetywayo. 

At this moment the talk was interrupted, for the soldiers 
who had led away the old Induna returned at speed, and 
prostrated themselves before the kmg. 

" Is he dead ? " he asked. 

" He has travelled the king's bridge," they answered 
grimly ; ** he died singing a song of praise of the king." 

** Good," said Cetywayo, ** that stone shall hurt my feet 
no more. Go, tell the tale of its casting away to Sompseu 
and to the Queen's Induna in Natal," he added with bitter 

** Baba ! Hear our Father speak. Listen to the rumbling 
of the Elephant," said the Indunas taking the point, while 
one bolder than the rest added : ** Soon we will tell them 
another tale, the white Talking Ones, a red tale, a tale of 
spears, and the regiments shall sing it in their ears." 

At the words an enthusiasm caught hold of the listeners, 
as the sudden flame catches hold of dry grass. They sprang 
up, for the most of them were seated on their haunches, 
and stamping their feet upon the ground in unison, re- 
peated : — 

Indaba ibomwu — tndaba ye vtikonto 
Lito dunyiswa nge impi ndhlebeni yaho. 
(A red tale 1 A red tale 1 A tale of spears, 
And the impis shall sing it in their ears.) 

of them, indeed, a great fierce-faced fellow, drew near 
idden and shaking his fist before his e^es — fottuuately 


being in the royal presence he had no assegai — shouted the 
sentences at him. 

The king saw that the Bre he had lit was burning too 

** Silence," he thundered in the deep voice for which he 
was remarkable, and instantly each man became as if he 
were turned to stone, only the echoes still answered back : 
" And the impis shall sing it in their ears — in their ears ". 

** I am growing certain that this is no place for me," 
thought Hadden ; "if that scoundrel had been armed he 
might have temporarily forgotten himself. Hullo ! who's 
this ? " 

Just then there appeared through the gate of the fence 
a splendid specimen of the Zulu race. The man, who was 
about thirty-five years of age, was arrayed in a full war 
dress of a captain of* the Umcityu regiment. From the 
circlet of otter skin on his brow rose his crest of plumes, 
round his middle, arms and knees hung the long fringes of 
black oxtails, and in one hand he bore a little dancing shield, 
also black in colour. The other was empty, since he might 
not appear before the king bearing arms. In countenance 
the man was handsome, and though just now they betrayed 
some anxiety, his eyes were genial and honest, and his 
mouth sensitive. In height he must have measured six 
foot two inches, yet he did not strike the observer as being 
tall, perhaps because of his width of chest and the solidity 
of his limbs, that were in curious contrast to the delicate 
and almost womanish hands and feet which so often mark 
the Zulu of noble blood. In short the man was what he 
seemed to be, a savage gentleman of birth, dignity and 

In company with him was another man plainly dressed in 
a moocha and a blanket, whose grizzled hair showed him to 
be over fifty years of age. His face also was pleasant and 
even refined, but the eyes were timorous, and the mouth 
lacked character. 


** Who are these ? " asked the king. 

The two men fell on their knees before him, and bowed till 
their foreheads touched the ground — the while giving him 
his sihonga or titles of praise. 

** Speak," he said impatiently. 

** O King/' said the young warrior, seating himself Zulu 
fashion, ** I am Nahoon, the son of Zomba, a captain of the 
Umcityu, and this is my uncle, Umgona, the brother of one 
of my mothers, my father's youngest wife." 

Cetywayo frowned. ** What do you here away from your 
regiment, Nahoon ? " 

** May it please the king, I have leave of absence from 
the head captains, and I come to ask a boon of the king's 

** Be swift, then, Nahoon." 

" It is this, O King," said the captain with some embarrass- 
ment : ** A while ago the king was pleased to make a keshla 

of me because of certain service that I did out yonder " 

and he touched the black ring which he wore in the hair of 
his head. *' Being now a ringed man and a captain, I crave 
the right of a man at the hands of the king — the right to 

** Right ? Speak more humbly, son of Zomba ; my soldiers 
and my cattle have no rights." 

Nahoon bit his lip, for he had made a serious mistake. 

" Pardon, O King. The matter stands thus : My uncle 
Umgona here has a fair daughter named Nanea, whom I 
desire to wife, and who desires me to husband. Awaiting 
the king's leave I am betrothed to her and in earnest of it 
I have paid to Umgona a lohola of fifteen head of cattle, 
cows and calves together. But Umgona has a powerful 
neighbour, an old chief named Maputa. the warden of the 
Crocodile Drift, who doubtless is known to the king, and 
this chief also seeks Nanea in marriage and harries Umgona, 
threatening him with many evils if he will not give the girl 
to him. But Umgona's heart is white towards me, and 


towards Maputa it is black, therefore together we come to 
crave this boon of the king." 

** It is so ; he speaks the truth," said Umgona. 

** Cease," answered Cetywayo angrily. ** Is this a time 
that my soldiers should seek wives in marriage, wives to 
turn their hearts to water ? Know that but yesterday for 
this crime I commanded that twenty girls who had dared 
without my leave to marry men of the Undi regiment, 
should be strangled and their bodies laid upon the cross- 
roads and with them the bodies of their fathers, that all 
might know their sin and be warned thereby. Ay, Umgona, 
it is well for you and for your daughter that you sought my 
word before she was given in marriage to this man. Now 
this is my award : I refuse your prayer, Nahoon, and since 
you, Umgona, are troubled with one whom you would not 
take as son-in-law, the old chief Maputa, I will free you 
from his importunity. The girl, says Nahoon, is fair — 
good, I myself will be gracious to her, and she shall be 
numbered among the wives of the royal house. Within 
thirty days from now, in the week of the next new moon, 
let her be delivered into the Sigodhla, the royal house of the 
women, and with her those cattle, the cows and the calves 
together, that Nahoon has given you, of which I fine him 
because he has dared to think of marriage without the leave 
of the king." 




<i t 

A Daniel come to judgment * indeed," reflected Hadden, 
who had been watching this savage comedy with interest ; 
** our love-sick friend has got more than he bargained for. 
Well, that comes of appealing to Caesar," and he turned to 
look at the two suppliants. 

The old man, Umgona, merely started, then began to 
pour out sentences of conventional thanks and praise to the 
king for his goodness and condescension. Cetywayo listened 
to his talk in silence, and when he had done answered by 
reminding him tersely that if Nanea did not appear at the 
date named, both she and he, her father, would in due course 
certainly decorate a cross-road in their own immediate neigh- 

The captain, Nahoon, afforded a more curious study. As 
the fatal words crossed the king's lips, his face took an 
expression of absolute astonishment, which was presently 
replaced by one of fury — the just fury of a man who suddenly 
has suffered an unutterable wrong. His whole frame 
quivered, the veins stood out in knots on his neck and fore- 
head, and his fingers closed convulsively as»though they 
were grasping the handle of a* spear. Presently the rage 
passed away — for as well might a man be wroth with fate 
as with a Zulu despot — to be succeeded by a look of the 
most hopeless misery. The proud dark eyes grew dull, the 
copper-coloured face sank in and turned ashen, the mouth 
drooped, and down one corner of it there trickled a little line 
of blood springing from the lip bitten through in the effort 


to keep silence. Lifting his hand in salute to the king, the 
great man rose and staggered rather than walked towards 
the gate. 

As he reached it, the voice of Cetywayo commanded him 
to stop. ** Stay," he said, " I have a service for you, 
Nahoon, that shall drive out of your head these thoughts of 
wives and marriage. You see this white man here; he is 
my guest, and would hunt buffalo and big game in the bush 
country. I put him m your charge ; take men with you, and 
see that he comes to no hurt. See also that you bring him 
before me within a month, or your life shall answer for it. 
Let him be here at my royal kraal in the first week of the 
new moon — when Nanea comes — and then I will tell you 
whether or no I agree with you that she is fair. Go now, 
my child, and you. White Man, go also ; those who are to 
accompany you shall be with you at the dawn. Farewell, 
but remember we meet again at the new moon, when we 
will settle what pay you shall receive as keeper of my guns. 
Do not fail me, White Man, or I shall send after you, and 
my messengers are sometimes rough." 

" This means that I am a prisoner," thought Hadden, 
** but it will go hard if I cannot manage to give them the 
slip somehow. I don't intend to stay in this country if war 
is declared, to be pounded into mouti (medicine), or have my 
eyes put out, or any little joke of that sort." 

Ten days had passed, and one evening Hadden and his 
escort were encamped in a wild stretch of mountainous 
country lying between the Blood and Unvunyana Rivers, 
not more than eight miles from that ** Place of the Little 

Hand " which within a few weeks was to become famous 


throughout the world by its native name of Isandhlwana, 
For three days they had been tracking the spoor of a small 
herd of buffalo that still inhabited the district, but as yet 
they had not come up with them. The Zulu hunters had 
suggested that they should follow the Unvviny^itv^k do>NX\ 


towards the sea where game was more plentiful, but this 
neither Hadden, nor the captain, Nahoon, had been anxious 
to do, for reasons which each of them kept secret to himself. 
Hadden's object was to work gradually down to the Buffalo 
River across which he hoped to effect a retreat into Natal. 
That of Nahoon was to linger in the neighbourhood of the 
kraal of Umgona, which was situated not very far from their 
present camping place, in the vague hope that he might 
find an opportunity of speaking with or at least of seeing 
Nanea, the girl to whom he was affianced, who within a 
few weeks must be taken from him, and given over to the 

A more eerie-looking spot than that where they were 
encamped Hadden had never seen. Behind them lay a 
tract of land — half-swamp and half-bush — in which the 
buffalo were supposed to be hiding. Beyond, in lonely 
grandeur, rose the mountain of Isandhlwana, while in front 
was an amphitheatre of the most gloomy forest, ringed 
round in the distance by sheer-sided hills. Into this 
forest there ran a river which drained the swamp, placidly 
enough upon the level. But it was not always level, for 
within three hundred yards of them it dashed suddenly 
over a precipice, of no great height but very steep, falling 
into a boiling rock-bound pool that the light of the sun 
never seemed to reach. 

" What is the name of that forest, Nahoon ? " asked 

** It is named Emagudu, The Home of the Dead," the 
Zulu replied absently, for he was looking towards the kraal 
of Nanea, which was situated an hour's walk away over the 
ridge to the right. 

*' The Home of the Dead ! Why ? " 

" Because the dead live there, those whom we name the 
Esemkofu, the Speechless Ones, and with them other Spirits, 
the AmaJUosi, from whom the breath of life has passed 
away, and who yet live on." 


" Indeed," said Hadden, ** and have you ever seen these 
ghosts ? " 

" Am I mad that I should go to look for them, White 
Man ? Only the dead enter that forest, and it is on the 
borders of it that our people make offerings to the dead." 

Followed by Nahoon, Hadden walked to the edge of the 
cliff and looked over it. To the left lay the deep and dreadful- 
looking pool, while close to the bank of it, placed upon a 
narrow strip of turf between the cliff and the commencement 
of the forest, was a hut 

'* Who lives there ? " asked Hadden. 

*' The g^eat Isanusi — she who is named Inyanga or 
Doctoress ; she who is named Inyosi (the Bee), because she 
gathers wisdom from the dead who grow in the forest." 

** Do you think that she could gather enough wisdom to 
tell me whether I am going to kill any buffalo, Nahoon ? " 

" Mayhap, White Man, but," he added with a little smile, 
** those who visit the Bee*s hive may hear nothing, or they 
may hear more than they wish for. The words of that Bee 
have a sting ? " 

" Good ; I will see if she can sting me." 

*' So be it," said Nahoon ; and turning, he led the way 
along the cliff till he reached a native path which zig-zagged 
down its face. 

By this path they climbed till they came tothe sward at 
the foot of the descent, and walked up it to the hut which was 
surrounded by a low fence of reeds, enclosing a small court- 
yard paved with ant-heap earth beaten hard and polished. 
In this court-yard sat the Bee, her stool being placed almost 
at the mouth of the round opening that served as a doorway 
to the hut. At first all that Hadden could see of her, 
crouched as she was in the shadow, was a huddled shape 
wrapped round with a greasy and tattered catskin kaross, 
above the edge of which appeared two eyes, fierce and quick 
as those of a leopard. At her feet smouldered a little fire, 
and ranged around it in a semi-circle were a number of human 




skulls, placed in pairs as though they were talking together, 
whilst other bones, to all appearance also human, were 
festooned about the hut and the fence of the courtyard. 

'* I see that the old lady is set up with the usual pro- 
perties," thought Hadden, but he said nothing. 

Nor did the witch-doctoress say anything ; she only fixed 
her beady eyes upon his face. Hadden returned the compli- 
ment, staring at her with all his might, till suddenly he 
became aware that he was vanquished in this curious duel. 
His brain grew confused, and to his fancy it seemed that the 
woman before him had shifted shape into the likeness of 
a colossal and horrid spider sitting at the mouth of her trap, 
and that these bones were the relics of her victims. 

** Why do you not speak. White Man ? " she said at last 
in a slow clear voice. ** Well, there is no need, since I can 
read your thoughts. You are thinking that I who am called 
the Bee should be better named the Spider. Have no fear ; 
I did not kill these men. What would it profit me when 
the dead are so many ? I suck the souls of men, not their 
bodies. White Man. It is their living hearts I love to look 
on, for therein I read much and thereby I grow wise. Now 
what would you of the Bee, White Man, the Bee that labours 
in this Garden of Death, and — what brings you here, son of 
Zomba ? Why are you not with the Umcityu now that 
they doctor themselves for the great war — the last war — the 
war of the white and the black — or if you have no stomach 
for fighting, why are you not at the side of Nanea the tall, 
Nanea the fair ? " 

Nahoon made no answer, but Hadden said : — 

** A small thing, mother. I would know if I shall prosper 
in my hunting." 

*' In your hunting, White Man ; what hunting ? The 
hunting of game, of money, or of women ? Well, one of 
them, for a-hunting you must ever be ; that is your nature, 
to hunt and be hunted. Tell me now, how goes the wound 

that trader who tasted of your steel yonder in the town of 

"0 Black Heait and body that is while and beautiful, I look into your heait." 

Set fiagi 1 8. 






R L 


the Maboon (Boers) ? No need to answer, White Man, but 
what fee, Chief, for the poor witch-doctoress whose skill you 
seek," she added in a whining voice. ** Surely you would 
not that an old woman should work without a fee ? '' 

*' I have none to offer you, mother, so I will be going," 
said Hadden, who began to feel himself satisfied with this 
display of the Bee's powers of observation and thought- 

*' Nay," she answered with an unpleasant laugh, ** would 
you ask a question, and not wait for the answer ? I will 
take no fee from you at present, White Man ; you shall pay 
me later on when we meet again," and once more she 
laughed. ** Let me look in your face, let me look in your 
face," she continued, rising and standing before him. 

Then of a sudden Hadden felt something cold at the back 
of his neck, and the next instant the Bee had sprung from 
him, holding between her thumb and finger a curl of dark 
hair which she had cut from his head. The action was so 
instantaneous that he had neither time to avoid nor to resent 
it, but stood still staring at her stupidly. 

** That is all I need," she cried, ** for like my heart my 
magic is white. Stay — son of Zomba, give me also of your 
hair, for those who visit the Bee must listen to her humming." 

Nahoon obeyed, cutting a little lock from his head with 
the sharp edge of his assegai, though it was very evident 
that he did this not because he wished to do so, but because 
he feared to refuse. 

Then the Bee slipped back her kaross, and stood bending 
over the fire before them, into which she threw herbs taken 
from a pouch that was bound about her middle. She was 
still a finely-shaped woman, and she wore none of the 
abominations which Hadden had been accustomed to see 
upon the persons of witch-doctoresses. About her neck, 
however, was a curious ornament, a small live snake, red 
and grey in hue, which her visitors recognised as one of the 
most deac^y to be found in that part of the countt^ . \x. *\^ 


not unusual for Bantu witch-doctors thus to decorate them- 
selves with snakes, though whether or not their fangs have 
first been extracted no one seems to know. 

Presently the herbs began to smoulder, and the smoke of 
them rose up in a thin straight stream, that, striking upon 
the face of the Bee, clung about her head enveloping it as 
though with a strange blue veil. Then of a sudden she 
stretched out her hands, and let fall the two locks of hair 
upon the burning herbs, where they writhed themselves to 
ashes like things alive. Next she opened her mouth, and 
began to draw the fumes of the hair and herbs into her lungs 
in great gulps ; while the snake, feeling the influence of the 
medicine, hissed and, uncoiling itself from about her neck, 
crept upwards and took refuge among the black saccaboola 
feathers of her head-dress. 

Soon the vapours began to do their work ; she swayed to 
and fro muttering, then sank back against the hut, upon the 
straw of which her head rested. Now the Bee's face was 
turned upwards towards the light, and it was ghastly to 
behold, for it had become blue in colour, and the open eyes 
were sunken like the eyes of one dead, whilst above her fore- 
head the red snake wavered and hissed, reminding Hadden 
of the Uraeus crest on the brow of statues of Egyptian kings. 
For ten seconds or more she remained thus, then she spoke 
in a hollow and unnatural voice : — 

'* O Black Heart and body that is white and beautiful, I 
look into your heart, and it is black as blood, and it shall be 
black with blood. Beautiful white body with a black heart, 
you shall find your game and hunt it, and it shall lead you 
into the House of the Homeless, into the Home of the 
Dead, and it shall be shaped as a bull, it shall be shaped as 
a tiger, it shall be shaped as a woman whom kings and 
waters cannot harm. Beautiful white body and black heart, 
you shall be paid your wages, money for money, and blow 
for blow. Think of my word when the spotted cat purrs 
above ^ our hr^aist ; think of it when the battle roars about 


you ; think of it when you grasp your great reward, and for 
the last time stand face to face with the ghost of the dead 
in the Home of the Dead. 

" O White Heart and black body, I look into your heart 
and it is white as milk, and the milk of innocence shall save 
it. Fool, why do you strike that blow ? Let him be who 
is loved of the tiger, and whose love is as the love of a tiger. 
Ah ! what face is that in the battle ? Follow it, follow it, 
O swift of foot ; but follow warily, for the tongue that has 
lied will never plead for mercy, and the hand that can betray 
is strong in war. White Heart, what is death ? In death 
life lives, and among the dead you shall find the life you lost, 
for there awaits you she whom kings and waters cannot 

As the Bee spoke, by degrees her voice sank lower and 
lower till it was almost inaudible. Then it ceased altogether, 
and she seemed to pass from trance to sleep. Hadden, who 
had been listening to her with an amused and cynical smile, 
now laughed aloud. 

** Why do you laugh. White Man ? " asked Nahoon 

" I laugh at my own folly in wasting time listening to the 
nonsense of that lying fraud." 

** It is no nonsense, White Man." 

" Indeed ? Then will you tell me what it means ? " 

" I cannot tell you what it means yet, but her words have 
to do with a woman and a leopard, and with your fate and 
my fate." 

Hadden shrugged his shoulders, not thinking the matter 
worth further argument, and at that moment the Bee woke 
up shivering, drew the red snake from her head-dress and 
coiling it about her throat wrapped herself again in the greasy 

" Are you satisfied with my wisdom, Inkoos ? " she asked 
of Hadden. 

" I am satisfied that you are one of the c\evci^%\. Ocv^^Vs^ m 


Zululand, mother," he answered coolly. ** Now, what is 
there to pay ? " 

The Bee took no offence at this rude speech, though for 
a second or two the look in her eyes grew strangely like that 
which they had seen in those of the snake when the fumes 
of the fire made it angry. 

** If the white lord says I am a cheat, it must be so," she 
answered, ** for he of all men should be able to discern a 
cheat I have said that I ask no fee ; — yes, give me a little 
tobacco from your pouch." 

Hadden opened the bag of antelope hide and drawing some 
tobacco from it, gave it to her. In taking it she clasped his 
hand and examined the gold ring that was upon the third 
finger, a ring fashioned like a snake with two little rubies 
set in the head to represent the eyes. 

** I wear a snake about my neck, and you wear one upon 
your hand^ Inkoos. I should like to have this ring to wear 
upon my hand, so that the snake about my neck may be less 
lonely there." 

'* Then I am afraid you will have to wait till I am dead," 
said Hadden. 

" Yes, yes," she answered in a pleased voice, " it is a good 
word. I will wait till you are dead and then I will take the 
ring, and none can say that I have stolen it, for Nahoon 
there will bear me witness that you gave me permission to 
do so." 

For the first time Hadden started, since there was some- 
thing about the Bee's tone that jarred upon him. Had she 
addressed him in her professional manner, he would have 
thought nothing of it ; but in her cupidity she had become 
natural, and it was evident that she spoke from conviction, 
believing her own words. 

She saw him start, and instantly changed her note. 

" Let the white lord forgive the jest of a poor old witch- 
doctoress/' she said in a whining voice. *' I have so much 
to do with Death that his name leaps to my lips,'' and she 


glanced first at the circle of skulls about her, then towards 
the waterfall that fed the gloomy pool upon whose banks 
her hut was placed. 

•* Look," she said simply. 

Following the line of her outstretched hand Hadden's eyes 
fell upon two withered mimosa trees which grew over the fall 
almost at right angles to its rocky edge. These trees were 
joined together by a rude platform made of logs of wood 
lashed down with riems of hide. Upon this platform stood 
three figures; notwithstanding the distance and the spray 
of the fall, he could see that they were those of two men 
and a girl, for their shapes stood out distinctly against the 
fiery red of the sunset sky. One instant there were three, 
the next there were two — for the girl had gone, and something 
dark rushing down the face of the fall, struck the surface of 
the pool with a heavy thud, while a faint and piteous cry 
broke upon his ear. 

** What is the meaning of that ? " he asked, horrified and 

" Nothing," answered the Bee with a laugh. ** Do you 
not know, then, that this is the place where faithless women, 
or girls who have loved without the leave of the kmg, are 
brought to meet their death, and with them their accomplices. 
Oh ! they die here thus each day, and I watch them die and 
keep the count of the number of them," and drawing a tally- 
stick from the thatch of the hut, she took a knife and added 
a notch to the many that appeared upon it, looking at 
Nahoon the while with a half-questioning, half-warning 

"Yes yes, it is a place of death," she muttered. " Up 
yonder the quick die day by day and down there" — and she 
pointed along the course of the river beyond the pool to 
where the forest began some two hundred yards from her 
hut — ** the ghosts of them have their home. Listen ! " 

As she spoke, a sound reached their ears that seemed to 
swell from the dim skirts of the forests, a ^^c>3\\«ci ^xA 



unholy sound which it is impossible to define more accurately 
than by saying that it seemed beastlike, and almost in- 

** Listen," repeated the Bee, " they are merry yonder." 
" Who ? " asked Hadden ; " the baboons ? " 
"No, Inkoos, the Amatongo — the ghosts that welcome 
her who has just become of their number." 

" Ghosts," said Hadden roughly, for he was angry at his 
own tremours, " I should like to see those ghosts. Do you 
think that I have never heard a troop of monkeys in the 
bush before, mother ? Come, Nahoon, let us be going while 
there is light to climb the cliff. Farewell." 

'* Farewell Inkoos, and doubt not that your wish will be 
fulfilled. Go in peace Inkoos — to sleep in peace." 




The prayer of the Bee notwithstanding, Philip Hadden slept 
ill that night. He felt in the best of health, and his con- 
science was not troubling him more than usual, but rest he 
could not. Whenever he closed his eyes, his mind conjured 
up a picture of the grim witch-doctoress, so strangely named 
the Bee, and the sound of her evil-omened words as he had 
heard them that afternoon. He was neither a superstitious 
nor a timid man, and any supernatural beliefs that might 
linger in his mind were, to say the least of it, dormant. But 
do what he might, he could not shake off a certain eerie sensa- 
tion of fear, lest there should be some grains of truth in the 
prophesyings of this hag. What if it were a fact that he 
was near his death, and that the heart which beat so strongly 
in his breast must soon be still for ever — no, he would not 
think of it. This gloomy place, and the dreadful sight which 
he saw that day, had upset his nerves. The domestic cus- 
toms of these Zulus were not pleasant, and for his part he 
was determined to be clear of them so soon as he was able 
to escape the country. 

In fact, if he could in any way manage it, it was his 
intention to make a dash for the border on the following 
night. To do this with a good prospect of success, however, 
it was necessary that he should kill a buffalo, or some other 
head of game. Then, as he knew well, the hunters with 
him would feast upon meat until they could scarcely stir, 
and that would be his opportunity. Nahoon, however, might 
not succumb to this temptation ; therefore ht uwisX Uw^X. \a 


luck to be rid of him. If it came to the worst, he could pu 
a bullet through him, which he considered he would b< 
justified in doing, seeing that in reality the man was his 
jailor. Should this necessity arise, he felt indeed that h< 
could face it without undue compunction, for in truth h( 
disliked Nahoon; at times he even hated him. Their natures 
were antagonistic, and he knew that the great Zulu distrustec 
and looked down upon him, and to be looked down upon b} 
a savage ** nigger *' was more than his pride could stomach 

At the first break of dawn Hadden rose and roused his 
escort, who were still stretched in sleep around the dyin§ 
fire, each man wrapped in his kaross or blanket. Nahoor 
stood up and shook himself, looking gigantic in the shadows 
of the morning. 

" What is your will, Umlungii (white man), that you an 
up before the sun ? " 

** My will, Muntumpofu (yellow man), is to hunt buffalo,* 
answered Hadden coolly. It irritated him that this savage 
should give him no title of any sort. 

" Your pardon," said the Zulu reading his thoughts, " bul 
I cannot call you Inkoos because you are not my chief, oi 
any man's ; still if the title ' white man ' offends you, wc 
will give you a name." 

"As you wish," answered Hadden briefly. 

Accordingly they gave him a name, Inhlizin-ingania, by 
which he was known among them thereafter, but Hadden 
was not best pleased when he found that the meaning oi 
those soft-sounding syllables was "Black Heart". That 
was how the Inyanga had addressed him — only she used 
different words. 

An hour later, and they were in the swampy bush country 
that lay behind the encampment searching for their game. 
Within a very little while Nahoon held up his hand, then 
pointed to the ground. Hadden looked ; there, pressed deep 
in the marshy soil, and to all appearance not ten minutes 
o)d, was the spoor of a small herd of buffalo. 


" I knew that we should find game to-day/' whispered 
Nahoon^ '* because the Bee said so." 

"Curse the Bee," answered Hadden below his breath. 
•'Come on." 

For a quarter of an hour or more they followed the spoor 
through thick reeds, till suddenly Nahoon whistled very softly 
and touched Hadden's arm. He looked up, and there^ about 
two hundred yards away, feeding on some higher ground 
among a patch of mimosa trees, were the buffaloes — six of 
them — an old bull with a splendid head, three cows, a heifer 
and a calf about four months old. Neither the wind nor the 
nature of the veldt were favourable for them to stalk the 
game from their present position, so they made a detour 01 
half a mile and very carefully crept towards them up the 
wind, slipping from trunk to trunk of the mimosas and 
when these failed them, crawling on their stomachs under 
cover of the tall tamhuti grass. At last they were within 
forty yards, and a further advance seemed impracticable ; for 
although he could not smell them, it was evident from his 
movements that the old bull heard some unusual sound and 
was growing suspicious. Nearest to Hadden, who alone 
of the party had a rifle, stood the heifer broadside on — a 
beautiful shot. Remembering that she would make the 
best beef, he lifted his Martini, and aiming at her immediately 
behind the shoulder, gently squeezed the trigger. The rifle 
exploded, and the heifer fell dead, shot through the heart. 
Strangely enough the other buflfaloes did not at once run 
away. On the contrary, they seemed puzzled to account for 
the sudden noise ; and, not being able to wind anything, 
lifted their heads and stared round them. 

The pause gave Hadden space to get in a fresh cartridge 
and to aim again, this time at the old bull. The bullet 
struck him somewhere in the neck or shoulder, for he came 
' to his knees, but in another second was up and having 
caught sight of the cloud of smoke he charged straight at it. 
Because of this smoke, or for some other reason, Hadden did 


not see him coming, and in consequence would most certainly 
have been trampled or gored, had not Nahoon sprung for- 
ward, at the imminent risk of his own life, and dragged him 
down behind an ant-heap. A moment more and the great 
beast had thundered by, taking no further notice of them. 

** Forward," said Hadden, and leaving most of the men 
to cut up the heifer and carry the best of her meat to camp, 
they started on the blood spoor. 

For some hours they followed the bull, till at last they 
lost the trail on a patch of stony ground thickly covered 
with bush, and exhausted by the heat, sat down to rest and 
to eat some biltong or sun-dried flesh which they had with 
them. They finished their meal, and were preparing to 
return to the camp, when one of the four Zulus who were 
with them went to drink at a little stream that ran at a 
distance of not more than ten paces away. Half a minute 
later they heard a hideous grunting noise and a splashing of 
water, and saw the Zulu fly into the air. All the while that 
they were eating, the wounded buffalo had been lying in wait 
for them under a thick bush on the banks of the streamlet, 
knowing — cunning brute that he was — that sooner or later 
his turn would come. With a shout of consternation they 
rushed forward to see the bull vanish over the rise before 
Hadden could get a chance of firing at him, and to find 
their companion dying, for the great horn had pierced his 

" It is not a buffialo, it is a devil,'* the poor fellow gasped, 
and expired. 

" Devil or not, I mean to kill it,** exclaimed Hadden. So 
leaving the others to carry the body of their comrade to 
camp, he started on accompanied by Nahoon only. Now 
the ground was more open and the chase easier, for they 
sighted their quarry frequently, though they could not come 
near enough to fire. Presently they travelled down a steep 

** Do you know where we are ? " asked Nahoon, pointing 


to a belt of foi^st opposite. '* That is Emagudu^ the Home 
of the Dead — and look, the bull heads thither." 

Hadden glanced round him. It was true ; yonder to the 
left were the Fall, the Pool of Doom, and the hut of the 

** Very well," he answered; **then we must head for it 

Nahoon halted. ** Surely you would not enter there," he 

** Surely I will," replied Hadden, ** but there is no need 
for you to do so if you are afraid." 

"lam afraid — of ghosts," said the Zulu, ** but I will 

So they crossed the strip of turf, and entered the haunted 
wood. It was a gloomy place indeed ; great wide-topped 
trees grew thick there shutting out the sight of the sky ; 
moreover, the air in it which no breeze stirred, was heavy 
with the exhalations of rotting foliage. There seemed to be 
no life here and no sound — only now and again a loathsome 
spotted snake would uncoil itself and glide away, and now 
and again a heavy rotten bough fell with a crash. 

Hadden was too intent upon the buffalo, however, to be 
much impressed by his surroundings. He only remarked 
that the light would be bad for shooting, and went on. 

They must have penetrated a mile or more into the 
forest when the sudden increase of blood upon the spoor 
told them that the bull's wound was proving fatal to him. 

** Run now," said Hadden cheerfully. 

" Nay, hamha gachle — go softly — " answered Nahoon, 
**the devil is dying, but he will try to play us another trick 
before he dies." And he went on peering ahead of him 

" It is all right here, anyway," said Hadden, pointing to 
the spoor that ran straight forward printed deep in the 
marshy ground. 

Nahoon did not answer, but stared steadily at the trunks 


of two trees a few paces in front of them and to their right. 
'' Look/* he whispered. 

Hadden did so, and at length made out the outline of 
something brown that was crouched behind the trees. 

" He is dead," he exclaimed. 

" Xo," answered Xahoon, " he has come back on his own 
path and is waiting for us. He knows that we are following 
his spoor. Now if you stand here, I think that you can 
shoot him through the back between the tree trunks.'' 

Hadden knelt down, and aiming very carefully at a point 
just below the bull's spine, he fired. There was an awful 
bellow, and the next instant the brute was up and at them. 
Nahoon Bung his broad spear, which sank deep into its 
chest, then they Bed this way and that The buffalo stood 
still for a moment, its fore legs straddled wide and its head 
down, looking first after the one and then the other, till of 
a sudden it uttered a low moaning sound and rolled over 
dead, smashing Nahoon*s assegai to fragments as it fell. 

"There! he's finished," said Hadden, ** and I believe it 
was your assegai that killed him. Hullo ! what's that 
noise ? " 

Nahoon listened. In several quarters of the forest, but 
from how far away it was impossible to tell, there rose a 
curious sound, as of people calling to each other in fear but 
in no articulate language. Nahoon shivered. 

** It is the Esemkofu,'* he said, ** the ghosts who have no 
tongue, and who can only wail like infants. Let us be going ; 
this place is bad for mortals." 

** And worse for buffaloes," said Hadden, giving the dead 
bull a kick, ** but I suppose that we must leave him here for 
your friends, the Esemkofu, as we have got meat enough, 
and can't carry his head." 

So they started back towards the open- country. As they 
threaded their way slowly through the tree trunks, a new 
idea came into Hadden's mind. Once out of this forest, he 
ithin an hour's run of the Zulu border, and once over 


the Zulu border^ he would feel a happier man than he did at 
that moment. As has been said^ he had intended to attempt 
to escape in the darkness, but the plan was risky. All the 
Zulus might not over-eat themselves and go to sleep, 
especially after the death of their comrade ; Nahoon, who 
watched him day and night, certainly would not. This was 
his opportunity — there remained the question of Nahoon. 

Well, if it came to the worst, Nahoon must die : it would 
be easy — he had a loaded rifle, and now that his assegai was 
gone, Nahoon had only a kerry. He did not wish to kill 
the man, though it was clear to him, seeing that his own 
safety was at stake^ that he would be amply justified in so 
doing. Why should he not put it to hjm — and then be 
guided by circumstances ? 

Nahoon was walking across a little open space about ten 
paces ahead of him where Hadden could see him very well, 
whilst he himself was under the shadow of a large tree 
with low horizontal branches running out from the trunk. 

*' Nahoon," he said. 

The Zulu turned round, and took a step towards him. 

** No, do not move, I pray. Stand where you are, or 
I shall be obliged to shoot you. Listen now : do not be 
afraid for . I shall not fire without warning. I am your 
prisoner, and you are charged to take me back to the king to 
be his servant. But I believe that a war is going to break 
out between your people and mine ; and this being so, you 
will understand that I do not wish to go to Cetywayo's kraal, 
because I should either come to a violent death there, or 
my own brothers will believe that I am a traitor and treat 
me accordingly. The Zulu border is not much more than 
an hour's journey away — let us say an hour and a half's : I 
mean to be across it before the moon is up. Now, Nahoon, 
will you lose me in the forest and give me this hour and 
a halPs start — or will you stop here with that ghost people 
of whom you talk ? Do you understand ? No, please do 
not move," 


" I understand you," answered the Zulu, in a perfectly 
composed voice, ** and I think that was a good name which 
we gave you this morning, though, Black Heart, there is 
some justice in your words and more wisdom. Your oppor- 
tunity is good, and one which a man named as you are 
should not let fall." 

** I am glad to find that you take this view of the matter, 
Nahoon. And now will you be so kind as to lose me, and 
to promise not to look for me till the moon is up ? " 

** What do you mean, Black Heart ? " 

** What I say. Come, I have no time to spare." 

" You are a strange man,' ' said the Zulu reflectively. ** You 
heard the king's order to me : would you have me disobey 
the order of the king? " 

** Certainly, I would. You have no reason to love Cety- 
wayo, and it does not matter to you whether or no I return 
to his kraal to mend guns there. If you think that he will 
be angry because I am missing, you had better cross the 
border also ; we can go together." 

** And leave my father and all my brethren to his ven- 
geance ? Black Heart, you do not understand. How can 
you, being so named ? I am a soldier, and the king's word 
is the king's word. I hoped to have died fighting, but I am 
the bird in your noose. Come, shoot, or you will not reach the 
border before moonrise," and he opened his arms and smiled. 

" If it must be, so let it be. Farewell, Nahoon, at least 
you are a brave man, but every one of us must cherish his 
own life," answered Hadden calmly. 

Then with much deliberation he raised his rifle and 
covered the Zulu's breast. 

Already — whilst his victim stood there still smiling, 
although a twitching of his lips betrayed the natural 
terrors 'that no bravery can banish — already his finger was 
contracting on the trigger, when of a sudden, as instantly 
indeed a^s though he had been struck by lightning, Hadden 
went down backwards, and behold ! there stood upon him 

Already bis finger w«« contiaciinf 

Tir. ": ' vu'.K 



a great spotted beast that waved its lon^j; tail to and fro and 
glared down into his eyes. 

It was a leopard — a tiger as they call it in Africa- -which, 
crouched upon a bough of the tree above, had been unable 
to resist the temptation of satisfying its savage appetite on 
the man below. For a second or two there was silence, 
broken only by the purring, or rather the snoring sound 
made by the leopard. In those seconds, strangely enough, 
there sprang up before Hadden*s mental vision a picture of 
the inyanga called Inyosi or the Bee, her death-like head 
resting against the thatch of the hut, and her death-like 
lips muttering ** think of my word when the great cat purrs 
above your face ". 

Then the brute put out its strength. The claws of one 
paw it drove deep into the muscles of his left thigh, while 
with another it scratched at his breast, tearing the clothes 
from it and furrowing the flesh beneath. The sight of the 
white skin seemed to madden it, and in its fierce desire for 
blood it drooped its square muzzle and buried its fangs in 
its victim's shoulder. Next moment there was a sound of 
rushing feet and of a club falling heavily. Up reared the 
leopard with an angry snarl, up till it stood as high as the 
attacking Zulu. At him it came, striking out savagely and 
tearing the black man as it had torn the white. Again 
the kerry fell full on its jaws, and down it went backwards. 
Before it could rise again, or rather as it was in the act of 
rising, the heavy knob-stick struck it once more, and with 
fearful force, this time as it chanced, full on the nape of the 
neck, and paralysing the brute. It writhed and bit and 
twisted, throwing up the earth and leaves, while blow after 
blow was rained upon it, till at length with a convulsive 
struggle and a stifled roar it lay still — the brains oozing from 
its shattered skull. 

Hadden sat up, the blood running from his wounds. 

** You have saved my life, Nahoon," he said faintly, *' and 
I thank you." 


** Do not thank me, Black Heart," answered the Zulu, " it 
was the king's word that I should keep you safely. Still 
this tiger has been hardly dealt with, for certainly he has 
saved my life," and lifting the Martini he unloaded the rifle. 

At this juncture Hadden swooned away. 

Twenty-four hours had gone by when, after what seemed 
to him to be but a little time of troubled and dreamful sleep, 
through which he could hear voices without understanding 
what they said, and feel himself borne he knew not whither, 
Hadden awoke to find himself lying upon a kaross in a large 
and beautifully clean Kaffir hut with a bundle of furs for a 
pillow. There was a bowl of milk at his side and tortured 
as he was by thirst, he tried to stretch out his arm to lift it 
to his lips, only to find to his astonishment that his hand 
fell back to his side like that of a dead man. Looking round 
the hut impatiently, he found that there was nobody in it to 
assist him, so he did the only thing which remained for him 
to do — he lay still. He did not fall asleep, but his eyes 
closed, and a kind of gentle torpor crept over him, half 
obscuring his recovered senses. Presently he heard a soft 
voice speaking ; it seemed far away, but he could clearly 
distinguish the words. 

** Black Heart still sleeps," the voice said, ** but there is 
colour in his face ; I think that he will wake soon, and find 
his thoughts again." 

** Have no fear, Nanea, he will surely wake, his hurts are 
not dangerous," answered another voice, that of Nahoon. 
** He fell heavily with the weight of the tiger on top of 
him, and that is why his senses have been shaken for so 
long. He went near to death, but certainly he will not die." 

** It would have been a pity if he had died," answered the 
soft voice, ** he is so beautiful ; never have I seen a white 
man who was so beautiful." 

" I did not think him beautiful when he stood with his 
ifle pointed at my heart," answered Nahoon sulkily. 


"Well, there is this to be said," she replied, ** he wished 
to escape from Cetywayo, and that is not to be wondered at," 
and she sighed. ** Moreover he asked you to come with 
him, and it might have been well if you had done so, that 
is, if you would have taken me with you ! " 

** How could I have done it, girl?" he asked angrily. 
*• Would you have me set at nothing the order of the 
king ? " 

" The king ! " she replied raising her voice. ** What do 
you owe to this king ? You have served him faithfully, and 
your reward is that within a few days he will take me from 
you — me, who should have been your wife, and I must — I 

must " And she began to weep softly, adding between her 

sobs, ** if you loved me truly, you would think more of me 
and of yourself, and less of the Black One and his orders- 
Oh ! let us fly, Nahoon, let us fly to Natal before this spear 
pierces me." 

** Weep not, Nanea," he said ; " why do you tear my 
heart in two between my duty and my love ? You know 
that I am a soldier, and that I must walk the path whereon 
the king has set my feet. Soon I think I shall be dead, for 
I seek death, and then it will matter nothing." 

** Nothing to you, Nahoon, who are at peace, but to me ? 
Yet, you are right, and I know it, therefore forgive me, who 
am no warrior, but a woman who must also obey — the will 
of the king." And she cast her arms about his neck, sob- 
bing her fill upon his breast. 




Presently, muttering something that the listener could not 
catch, Nahoon left Nanea, and crept out of the hut by its 
bee-hole entrance. Then Hadden opened his eyes and looked 
round him. The sun was sinking and a ray of its red light 
streaming through the little opening filled the place with a 
soft and crimson glow. In the centre of the hut — supporting 
it — stood a thorn-wood roof-tree coloured black by the smoke 
of the Bre ; and against this, the rich light falling full upon 
her, leaned the girl Nanea — a very picture of gentle despair. 
As is occasionally the case among Zulu women, she was 
beautiful — so beautiful that the sight of her went straight to 
the white man's heart, for a moment causing the breath to 
catch in his throat. Her dress was very simple. On her 
shoulders, hanging open in front, lay a mantle of soft white 
stuiT edged with blue beads, about her middle was a buck- 
skin moocha, also embroidered with blue beads, while 
round her forehead and left knee were strips of grey fur, 
and on her right wrist a shining bangle of copper. Her 
naked bronze-hued figure was tall and perfect in its propor- 
tions ; while her face had little in common with that of the 
ordinary native girl, showing as it did strong traces of the 
ancestral Arabian or Semitic blood. It was oval in shape, 
with delicate aquiline features, arched eyebrows, a full mouth, 
that drooped a little at the corners, tiny ears, behind which 
the wavy coal-black hair hung down to the shoulders, and 
the very loveliest pair of dark and liquid eyes that it is 
possible to imagine. 



1 i 

nanea. 35 

For a minute or more Nanea stood thus, her sweet face 
bathed in the sunbeam, while Hadden feasted his eyes upon 
its beauty. Then sighing heavily, she turned, and seeing 
that he was awake, started, drew her mantle over her breast 
and came, or rather glided, towards him. 

** The chief is awake," she said in her soft Zulu accents. 
*' Does he need aught ? " 

** Yes, Lady," he answered ; ** I need to drink, but alas ! I 
am too weak." 

She knelt down beside him, and supporting him with her 
left arm, with her right held the gourd to his lips. 

How it came about Hadden never knew, but before that 
draught was finished a change passed over him. Whether 
it was the savage girl's touch, or her strange and fawn-like 
loveliness, or the tender pity in her eyes, matters not — the 
issue was the same. She struck some cord in his turbulent 
uncurbed nature, and of a sudden it was filled full with 
passion for her— a passion which if, not elevated, at least was 
real. He did not for a moment mistake the significance of 
the flood of feeling that surged through his veins. Hadden 
never shirked facts. 

'* By Heaven ! " he said to himself, ** I have fallen in love 
with a black beauty at first sight — more in love than I have 
ever been before. It's awkward, but there will be compensa- 
tions. So much the worse for Nahoon, or for Cetywayo, or 
for both of them. After all, I can always get rid of her if she 
becomes a nuisance." 

Then, in a fit of renewed weakness, brought about by the 
turmoil of his blood, he lay back upon the pillow of furs, 
watching Nanea's face while with a native salve of pounded 
leaves she busied herself dressing the wounds that the leopard 
had made. 

It almost seemed as though something of what was pas- 
sing in his mind communicated itself to that of the girl. At 
least, her hand shook a little at her task, and getting done 
with it as quickly as she could, she rose from her knees with 


a courteous *' It is finished, Inkoos,"' and once more took up 
her position by the roof- tree. 

** I thank you, Lady," he said ; **your hand is kind.'* 
** You must not call me lady, Inkoos,'' she answered, ** I 
am no chieftainess, but only the daughter of a headman, 

** And named Nanea," he said. ** Nay, do not be sur- 
prised, I have heard of you. Well, Nanea, perhaps you will 
soon become a chieftainess — up at the king's kraal yonder." 
** Alas ! and alas ! " she said, covering her face with her 

** Do not grieve, Nanea, a hedge is never so tall and thick 
but that it can be climbed or crept through." 

She let fall her hands and looked at him eagerly, but he 
did not pursue the subject. 

" Tell me, how did I come here, Nanea ? " 
** Nahoon and his companions carried you, Inkoos/* 
** Indeed, I begin to be thankful to the leopard that struck 
me down. Well, Nahoon is a brave man, and he has done 
me a great service. I trust that I may be able to repay it — 
to you, Nanea." 

This was the first meeting of Nanea and Hadden ; but, 
although she did not seek them, the necessities of his sickness 
and of the situation brought about many another. Never 
for a moment did the white man waver in his determination 
to get into his keeping the native girl who had captivated 
him, and to attain his end he brought to bear all his powers 
and charm to detach her from Nahoon, and win her affections 
for himself. He was no rough wooer, however, but proceeded 
warily, weaving her about with a web of flattery and attention 
that must, he thought, produce the desired effect upon her 
mind. Without a doubt, indeed, it would have done so — for 
she was but a woman, and an untutored one — had it not been 
for a simple fact which dominated her whole nature. She 
loved Nahoon, and there was no room in her heart for any 

NANEA. 37 

Other man, white or black. To Hadden she was courteous 
and kindly but no more, nor did she appear to notice any of 
the subtle advances by which he attempted to win a foot- 
hold in her heart. For a while this puzzled him, but he • 
remembered that the Zulu women do not usually permit 
themselves to show feeling towards an undeclared suitor. 
Therefore it became necessary that he should speak out. 

His mind once made up, he had not to wait long for an 
opportunity. He was now quite recovered from his hurts, 
and accustomed to walk in the neighbourhood of the kraal. 
About two hundred yards from Umgona's huts rose a spring, 
and thither it was Nanea's habit to resort in the evening to 
bring back drinking-water for the use of her father's house- 
hold. The path between this spring and the kraal ran 
through a patch of bush, where on a certain afternoon 
towards sundown Hadden took his seat under a tree, having 
first seen Nanea go down to the little stream as was her 
custom. A quarter of an hour later she reappeared carrying 
a large gourd upon her head. She wore no garment now 
except her moocha, for she had but one mantle and was 
afraid lest the water should splash it. He watched her 
advancing along the path, her hands resting on her hips, 
her splendid naked figure outlined against the westering 
sun, and wondered what excuse he could make to talk with 
her. As it chanced fortune favoured him, for when she was 
near him a snake glided across the path in front of the girl's 
feet, causing her to spring backwards in alarm and overset 
the gourd of water. He came forward, and picked it up. 

** Wait here," he said laughing; "I will bring it to you 

** Nay, InkooSf*' she remonstrated, *' that is a woman's 

" Among my people," he said, ** the men love to work for 
the women," and he started for the spring, leaving her 

Before he reached her again, he regretted his gallantry^ 


for it was necessary to carry the handleless gourd upon his 
shoulder, and the contents of it spilling over the edge soaked 
him. Of this, however, he said nothing to Nanea. 

** There is your water, Nanea, shall I carry it for you to 
the kraal ? " 

** Nay, Inkaos, I thank you, but give it to me, you are 
weary with its weight." 

** Stay awhile, and I will accompany you. Ah ! Nanea, 
I am still weak, and had it not been for you I think that 
I should be dead." 

** It was Nahoon who saved you — not I, Inkoos.** 

" Nahoon saved my body, but you, Nanea, you alone can 
save my heart." 

"You talk darkly, Inkoos." 

" Then I must make my meaning clear, Nanea. I love 

She opened her brown eyes wide. 

** You, a white lord, love me, a Zulu girl ? How can 
that be ? " 

" I do not know, Nanea, but it is so, and were you not 
blind you would have seen it. I love you, and I wish to take 
you to wife." 

** Nay, InkooSy it is impossible. I am already betrothed." 

"Ay," he answered, " betrothed to the king." 

" No, betrothed to Nahoon." 

** But it is the king who will take you within a week ; is 
it not so ? And would you not rather that I should take 
you than the king ? " 

" It seems to be so, Inkoos, and I would rather go with you 
than with the king, but most of all I desire to marry Nahoon. 
It may be that I shall not be able to marry him, but if that 
is so, at least I will never become one of the king's women." 

" How will you prevent it, Nanea ? " 

** There are waters in which a maid may drown, and trees 
upon which she can hang," she answered with a quick 
setting of the mouth. 

NANEA. 39 

** That were a pity, Nanea, you are too fair to die." 

'* Fair or foul, yet I die, Itikoos.*' 

" No, no, come with me — I will find a way — and be my 
wife," and he put his arm about her waist, and strove to draw 
her to him. 

Without any violence of movement, and with the most 
perfect dignity, the girl disengaged herself from his embrace. 

•* You have honoured me, and I thank you, Inkoos,'' she 
said quietly, ** but you do not understand. 1 am the wife 
of Nahoon — I belong to Nahoon ; therefore, I cannot look on 
any other man while Nahoon lives. It is not our custom, 
Inkoos, for we are not as the white women, but ignorant 
and simple, and when we vow ourselves to a man, we abide 
by that vow till death." 

"Indeed," said Hadden ; "and so now you go to tell 
Nahoon that I have offered to make you my wife." 

" No, InkooSj why should I tell Nahoon your secrets ? I 
have said * nay ' to you, not * yea,' therefore he has no right 
to know," and she stooped to lift the gourd of water. 

Hadden considered the situation rapidly, for his repulse 
only made him the more determined to succeed. Of a sudden 
under the emergency he conceived a scheme, or rather its 
rough outline. It was not a nice scheme, and some men 
might have shrunk from it, but as he had no intention of 
suffering himself to be defeated by a Zulu girl, he decided — 
with regret, it is true — that having failed to attain his ends 
by means which he considered fair, he must resort to others 
of more doubtful character. 

" Nanea," he said, " you are a good and honest woman, 
and I respect you. As I have told you, I love you also, but 
if you refuse to listen to me there is nothing more to be said, 
and after all, perhaps it would be better that you should 
marry one of your own people. But, Nanea, you will never 
marry him, for the king will take you ; and, if he does not give 
you to some other man, either you will become one of his 
* sisters,' or to be free of him, as you say, you will di^. No>n 


hear me, for it is because I love you and wish your welfare 
that I speak thus. Why do you not escape into Natal, 
taking Nahoon with you, for there as you know you may 
live in peace out of reach of the arm of Cetywayo ? " 

** That is my desire, Inkoos, but Nahoon will not consent. 
He says that there is to be war between us and you white 
men, and he will not break the command of the king and 
desert from his army." 

" Then he cannot love you much, Nanea, and at least you 
have to think of yourself. Whisper into the ear of your 
father and fly together, for be sure that Nahoon will soon 
follow you. Ay ! and I myself will fly with you, for I too 
believe that there must be war, and then a white man in this 
country will be as a lamb among the eagles." 

** If Nahoon will come, I will go, Inkoos, but I cannot fly 
without Nahoon ; it is better I should stay here and kill 

" Surely then being so fair and loving him so well, you 
can teach him to forget his folly and to escape with you. In 
four days' time we must start for the king's kraal, and if you 
win over Nahoon, it will be easy for us to turn our faces 
southwards and cross the river that lies between the land of 
the Amazulu and Natal. For the sake of all of us, but most 
of all for your own sake, try to do this, Nanea, whom I have 
loved and whom I now would save. See him and plead 
with him as you know how, but as yet do not tell him that 
I dream of flight, for then I should be watched." 

'* In truth, I will, hikoos^* she answered earnestly, ** and 
oh ! I thank you for your goodness. Fear not that I will 
betray you — first would I die. Farewell." 

** Farewell, Nanea," and taking her hand he raised it to 
his lips. 

Late that night, just as Hadden was beginning to prepare 
himself for sleep, he heard a gentle tapping at the board 
which closed the entrance to his hut, 

NANEA. 41 

" Enter," he said, unfastening the door, and presently by 
the light of the little lantern that he had with him, he saw 
Nanea creep into the hut, followed by the great form of 

" Inkoos," she said in a whisper when the door was closed 
again, " I have pleaded with Nahoon, and he has consented 
to fly ; moreover, my father will come also." 

** Is it so, Nahoon ? " asked Hadden. 

" It is so," answered the Zulu, looking down shamefacedly ; 
^* to save this girl from the king, and because the love of 
her eats out my heart, I have bartered away my honour. 
But I tell you, Nanea, and you, White Man, as I told Um- 
gona just now, that I think no good will come of this flight, 
and if we are caught or betrayed, we shall be killed every 
one of us." 

** Caught we can scarcely be," broke in Nanea anxiously, 
" for who could betray us, except the Inkoos here " 

** Which he is not likely to do," said Hadden quietly, 
*' seeing that he desires to escape with you, and that his 
life is also at stake." 

•* That is so, Black Heart," said Nahoon, ** otherwise I 
tell you that I should not have trusted you.'* 

Hadden took no notice of this outspoken saying, but until 
very late that night they sat there together making their 

On the following morning Hadden was awakened by 
sounds of violent altercation. Going out of his hut he 
found that the disputants were Umgona and a fat and evil- 
looking KafHr chief who had arrived at the kraal on a pony. 
This chief, he soon discovered, was named Maputa, being 
none other than the man who had sought Nanea in marriage 
and brought about Nahoon's and Umgona's unfortunate 
appeal to the king. At present he was engaged in abusing 
Umgona furiously, charging him with having stolen certain 
of his oxen and bewitched his cows so that they would uot 



give milk. The alleged theft it was comparatively easy to 
disprove, but the wizardry remained a matter of argument. 

** You are a dog, and a son of a dog/' shouted Maputa, 
shaking his fat fist in the face of the trembling but indignant 
Umgona. ** You promised me your daughter in marriage, 
then having vowed her to that umfagozan — that low lout of 
a soldier, Nahoon, the son of Zomba — you went, the two of 
you, and poisoned the king's ear against me, bringing me 
into trouble with the king, and now you have bewitched my 
cattle. Well, wait, I will be even with you, Wizard ; wait 
till you wake up in the cold morning to find your fence red 
with fire, and the slayers standing outside your gates to eat 
up you and yours with spears " 

At this juncture Nahoon, who till now had been listening 
in silence, intervened with effect. 

** Good," he said, " we will wait, but not in your company. 

Chief Maputa. Hamha ! (go) " and seizing the fat old 

ruffian by the scruff" of his neck, he flung him backwards with 
such violence that he rolled over and over down the little 

Hadden laughed, and passed on towards the stream where 
he proposed to bathe. Just as he reached it, he caught sight 
of Maputa riding along the footpath, his head-ring covered 
with mud, his lips purple and his black face livid with rage. 

" There goes an angry man," he said to himself. ** Now, 

how would it be " and he looked upwards like one 

seeking an inspiration. It seemed to come ; perhaps the 
devil finding it open whispered in his ear, at any rate — in a 
few seconds his plan was formed, and he was walking 
through the bush to meet Maputa. 

" Go in peace, Chief," he said ; ** they seem to have 
treated you roughly up yonder. Having no power to inter, 
fere, I came away for I could not bear the sight. It is indeed 
shameful that an old and venerable man of rank should be 
struck into the dirt, and beaten by a soldier drunk with 

NANEA. 43 

** Shameful, White Man ! '* gasped Maputa ; " your words 
are true indeed. But wait a while. I, Maputa, will roll that 
stone over, I will throw that bull upon its back. When 
next the harvest ripens, this I promise, that neither 
Nahoon nor Umgona, nor any of his kraal shall be left 
to gather it." 

** And how will you manage that, Maputa ? " 

** I do not know, but I will find a way. Oh ! I tell you, 
a way shall be found." 

Hadden patted the pony's neck meditatively, then leaning 
forward, he looked the chief in the eyes and said : — 

'* What will you give me, Maputa, if I show you that way, 
a sure and certain one, whereby you may be avenged to the 
death upon Nahoon, whose violence I also have seen, and 
upon Umgona, whose witchcraft brought sore sickness 
upon me." 

** What reward do you seek. White Man ? " asked Maputa 

** A little thing. Chief, a thing of no account, only the 
girl Nanea, to whom as it chances I have taken a fancy." 

" I wanted her for myself, White Man, but he who sits at 
Ulundi has laid his hand upon her." 

'* That is nothing. Chief; I can arrange with him who 
' sits at Ulundi '. It is with you who are great here that 
1 wish to come to terms. Listen : if you grant my desire, 
not only will I fulfil yours upon your foes, but when the girl 
is delivered into my hands I will give you this rifle and 
a hundred rounds of cartridges." 

Maputa looked at the sporting Martini, and his eyes 

** It is good," he said ; " it is very good. Often have I 
wished for such a gun that will enable me to shoot game, 
and to talk with my enemies from far away. Promise it to 
me, White Man, and you shall take the girl if I can give 
her to you." 

•* You swear it, Maputa ? " 


** I swear it by the head of Chaka, and the spirits of my 

** Good. At dawn on the fourth day from now it is the 
purpose of Umgona, his daughter Nanea, and Nahoon, to 
cross the river into Natal by the drift that is called Crocodile 
Drift, taking their cattle with them and flying from the king. 
I also shall be of their company, for they know that I have 
learned their secret, and would murder me if I tried to leave 
them. Now you who are chief of the border and guardian 
of that drift, must hide at night with some men among 
the rocks in the shallows of the drift and await our coming. 
First Nanea will cross driving the cows and calves, for so it 
is arranged, and I shall help her ; then will follow Umgona 
and Nahoon with the oxen and heifers. On these two you 
must fall, killing them and capturing the cattle, and after- 
wards I will give you the rifle." 

** What if the king ask for the girl, White Man ? " 

" Then you shall answer that in the uncertain light you 
did not recognise her and so she slipped away from you ; 
moreover, that at first you feared to seize the girl lest her 
cries should alarm the men and they should escape you." 

** Good, but how can I be sure that you will give me the 
gun once you are across the river ? " 

** Thus : before I enter the ford I will lay the rifle and 
cartridges upon a stone by the bank, telling Nanea that I 
shall return to fetch them when I have driven over the 

** It is well, White Man ; I will not fail you." 

So the plot was made, and after some further conversation 
upon points of detail, the two conspirators shook hands and 

** That ought to come off all right," reflected Hadden to 
himself as he plunged and floated in the waters of the stream, 
*' but somehow I don't quite trust our friend Maputa. It 
would have been better if I could have relied upon myself to 
rid of Nahoon and his respected uncle — a couple of shots 

NANEA. 45 

would do it in the water. But then that would be murder and 
murder is unpleasant ; whereas the other thing is only the 
delivery to justice of two base deserters, a laudable action 
in a military country. Also personal interference upon my 
part might turn the girl against, me ; while after Umgona 
and Nahoon have been wiped out by Maputa, she must 
accept my escort. Of course there is a risk, but in every 
walk of life the most cautious have to take risks at times." 

As it chanced, Philip Hadden was correct in his suspicions 
of his coadjutor, Maputa. Even before that worthy chief 
reached his own kraal, he had come to the conclusion 
that the white man's plan, though attractive in some ways, 
was too dangerous, since it was certain that if the girl Nanea 
escaped, the king would be indignant. Moreover, the men 
he took with him to do the killing in the drift would suspect 
something and talk. On the other hand he would earn much 
credit with his majesty by revealing the plot, saying that he 
had learned it from the lips of the white hunter, whom 
Umgona and Nahoon had forced to participate in it, and of 
whose coveted rifle he must trust to chance to possess 

An hour later two discreet messengers were bounding 
across the plains, bearing words from the Chief Maputa, the 
Warden of the Border, to the "great Black Elephant" at 




Fortune showed itself strangely favourable to the plans of 
Nahoon and Nanea. One of the Zulu captain's perplexities 
was as to how he should lull the suspicions and evade the 
vigilance of his own companions, who together with himself 
had been detailed by the king to assist Hadden in his hunt- 
mg and to guard against his escape. As it chanced, however, 
on the day after the incident of the visit of Maputa, a mes- 
senger arrived from no less a person than the great military 
Induna, Tvingwayo ka Marolo, who afterwards commanded 
the Zulu army at Isandhlwana, ordering these men to return 
to their regiment, the Umcityu Corps, which was to be placed 
upon full war footing. Accordingly Nahoon sent them, 
saying that he himself would follow with Black Heart in 
the course of a few days, as at present the white man was 
not sufficiently recovered from his hurts to allow of his 
travelling fast and far. So the soldiers went, doubting 

Then Umgona gave it out that in obedience to the com- 
mand of the king he was about to start for Ulundi, taking 
with him his daughter Nanea to be delivered over into the 


Sigodhla, and also those fifteen head of cattle that had been 
lohohfd by Nahoon in consideration of his forthcoming 
marriage, whereof he had been fined by Cetywayo. Under 
pretence that they required a change of veldt, the rest of his 
cattle he sent away in charge of a Basuto herd who knew 
nothing of their plans, telling him to keep them by the 
Crocodile Drift, as there the grass was good and sweett 


All preparations being completed, on the third day the 
party started, heading straight for Ulundi. After they had 
travelled some miles, however, they left the road and turning 
sharp to the right, passed unobserved of any through a great 
stretch of uninhabited bush. Their path now lay not far 
from the Pool of Doom, which, indeed, was close to Um- 
gona*s kraal, and the forest that was called Home of the 
Dead, but out of sight of these. It was their plan to travel 
by night, reaching the broken country near the Crocodile 
Drift on the following morning. Here they proposed to lie 
hid that day and through the night ; then, having first 
collected the cattle which had preceded them, to cross the 
river at the break of dawn and escape* into Natal. At least 
this was the plan of his companions ; but, as we know, 
Hadden had another programme, wherein after one last 
appearance two of the party would play no part. 

During that long afternoon's journey Umgona, who knew 
every inch of the country, walked ahead driving the fifteen 
cattle and carrying in his hand a long travelling stick of 
black and white umzimbeet wood, for in truth the old man 
was in a hurry to reach his journey's end. Next came 
Nahoon, armed with a broad assegai, but naked except for 
his moocha and necklet of baboon's teeth, and with him 
Nanea in her white bead-bordered mantle. Hadden, who 
brought up the rear, noticed that the girl seemed to be under 
the spell of an imminent apprehension, for from time to 
time she clasped her lover's arm, and looking up into his 
face, addressed him with vehemence, almost with passion. 

Curiously enough, the sight touched Hadden, and once or 
twice he was shaken by so sharp a pang of remorse at the 
thought of his share in this tragedy, that he cast about in 
his mind seeking a means to unravel the web of death which 
he himself had woven. But ever that evil voice was whis- 
pering at his ear. It reminded him that he, the white Inkoos, 
had been refused by this dusky beauty, and that if he found 
a way to save him, within some few hours she would be thc 


wife of the savage gentleman at her side, the man who had 
named him Black Heart and who despised him, the man 
whom he had meant to murder and who immediately repaid 
his treachery by rescuing him from the jaws of the leopard a 
the risk of his own life. Moreover, it was a law of Hadden's 
existence never to deny himself anything that he desired if 
it lay within his power to take it — a law which had led him 
always deeper into sin. In other respects, indeed, it had 
not carried him far, for in the past he had desired much, and 
he had won little ; but this particular flower was to his hand, 
and he would pluck it. If Nahoon stood between him and 
the flower, so much the worse for Nahoon, and if it should 
wither in his grasp, so much the worse for the flower ; it 
could always be thrown away. Thus it came about that, 
not for the first time in his life, Philip Hadden discarded the 
somewhat spasmodic prickings of conscience and listened to 
that evil whispering at his ear. 

About half-past five o'clock in the afternoon the four re- 
fugees passed the stream that a mile or so down fell over 
the little precipice into the Doom Pool ; and, entering a patch 
of thorn trees on the further side, walked straight into the 
midst of two-and-twenty soldiers, who were beguiling the 
tedium of expectancy by the taking of snuflf and the smoking 
of dakka or native hemp. With these soldiers, seated on his 
pony, for he was too fat to walk, waited the Chief Maputa. 

Observing that their expected guests had arrived, the men 
knocked out the dakka pipe, replaced the snuff" boxes in the 
slits made in the lobes of their ears, and secured the four of 

** What is the meaning of this, O King's soldiers ? " asked 
Umgona in a quavering voice. *' We journey to the kraal of 
U*Cetywayo ; why do you molest us ? " 

•* Indeed. Wherefore then are your faces set towards the 
south ? Does the Black One live in the south ? Well, you 
will journey to another kraal presently," answered the jovial- 
looking captain of the party with a callous laugh. 



" I do not understand,'* stammered Umgona. 

** Then I will explain while you rest," said the captain. 
•' The Chief Maputa yonder sent word to the Black One at 
Ulundi that he had learned of your intended flight to Natal 
from the lips of this white man, who had warned him of it. 
The Black One was angry, and despatched us to catch you 
and make an end of you. That is all. Come on now, 
quietly, and let us finish the matter. As the Doom Pool is 
near, vour deaths will be easy." 

Xahoon heard the words, and sprang straight at the throat 
of Hadden ; but he did not reach it, for the soldiers pulled him 
down. Nanea heard them also, and turning, looked the 
traitor in the eyes ; she said nothing, she only looked, but 
he could never forget that look. The white man for his part 
was filled with a fiery indignation against Maputa. 

•* You wicked villain,*' he gasped, whereat the chief smiled 
in a sickly fashion, and turned away. 

Then they were marched along the banks of the stream 
till they reached the waterfall that fell into the Pool of 

Hadden was a brave man after his fashion, but his heart 
quailed as he gazed into that abyss. 

** Are you going to throw me in there ? " he asked of the 
Zulu captain in a thick voice. 

** You, White Man ? " replied the soldier unconcernedly. 
** No, our orders are to take you to the king, but what 
he will do with you I do not know. There is to be war 
between your people and ours, so perhaps he means to 
pound you into medicine for the use of the witch-doctors, 
or to peg you over an ant-heap as a warning to other white 

Hadden received this information in silence, but its effect 
upon his brain was bracing, for instantly he began to search 
out some means of escape. 

By now the party had halted near the two thorn trees that 
hung over the waters of the pool. 


" Who dives first ? " asked the captain of the Chief 

" The old wizard," he replied, nodding at Umgona ; *' then 
his daughter after him, and last of all this fellow," and he 
struck Nahoon in the face with his open hand. 

" Come on, Wizard," said the captain, grasping Umgona 
by the arm, " and let us see how you can swim." 

At the words of doom Umgona seemed to recover his self- 
command, after the fashion of his race. 

** No need to lead me, soldier," he said, shaking himself 
loose, ** who am old and ready to die." Then he kissed his 
daughter at his side, wrung Nahoon by the hand, and turn- 
ing from Hadden with a gesture of contempt walked out 
upon the platform that joined the two thorn trunks. Here 
he stood for a moment looking at the setting sun, then 
suddenly, and without a sound, he hurled himself into the 
abyss below and vanished. 

** That was a brave one," said the captain with admiration. 
" Can you spring too, girl, or must we throw you ? " 

** I can walk my father's path," Nanea answered faintly, 
'* but first I crave leave to say one word. It is true that we 
were escaping from the king, and therefore by the law we 
must die ; but it was Black Heart here who made the plot, 
and he who has betrayed us. Would you know why he has 
betrayed us ? Because he sought my favour, and I refused 
him, and this is the vengeance that he takes — a white man's 

** Wow ! " broke in the chief Maputa, ** this pretty one 
speaks truth, for the white man would have made a bargain 
with me under which Umgona, the wizard, and Nahoon, the 
soldier, were to be killed at the Crocodile Drift, and he him- 
self suffered to escape with the girl. I spoke him softly and 
said * yes,* and then like a loyal man I reported to the king." 

**You hear," sighed Nanea. "Nahoon, fare you well, 
though presently perhaps we shall be together again. It 
was I who tempted you from your duty. For my sake you 

" Black Heart you seem to have won the day." 


forgot your honour, and I am/epaid. Farewell, my husband, 
it is better to die with you than to enter the house of the 
king's women/' and Nanea stepped on to the platform. 

Here, holding to a bough of one of the thorn trees, she 
turned and addressed Hadden, saying : — 

'^ Black Heart, you seem to have won the day^ but me at 
least you lose and — the sun is not yet set. After sunset 
comes the night, Black Heart, and in that night I pray that 
you may wander eternally, and be given to drink of my 
blood and the blood of Umgona my father, and the blood of 
Nahoon my husband, who. saved your life, and whom you 
have murdered. Perchance, Black Heart, we may } ct meet 
yonder — in the House of the Dead." 

Then uttering a low cry Nanea clasped her hands and 
sprang upwards and outwards from the platform. The 
watchers bent their heads forward to look. They saw her 
rush headlong down the face of the fall to strike the water 
fifty feet below. A few seconds, and for the last time, they 
caught sight of her white garment glimmering on the surface 
of the gloomy pool. Then the shadows and mist- wreaths 
hid it, and she was gone. 

" Now, husband," cried the cheerful voice of the captain, 
** yonder is your marriage bed, so be swift to follow a bride 
who is so ready to lead the way. IVoiv I but you are good 
people to kill ; never have I had to do with any who gave 

less trouble. You " and he stopped, for mental agony 

had done its work, and suddenly Nahoon went mad before 
his eyes. 

With a roar like that of a lion the great man cast oft' 
those who held him and seizing one of them round the 
waist and thigh, he put out all his terrible strength. Lifting 
him as though he had been an infant, he hurled him over 
the edge of the cliif to find his death on the rocks of the Pool 
of Doom. Then crying : — 

"Black Heart! your turn, Black Heart the traitor! " he 
rushed at Hadden, his eyes rolling and foam Hying from 


his lips, as he passed striking the chief Maputa from his 
horse with a backward blow of his hand. Ill would it have 
gone with the white man if Nahoon had caught him. But 
he could not come at him, for the soldiers sprang upon him 
and notwithstanding his fearful struggles they pulled him 
to the ground, as at certain festivals the Zulu regiments with 
their naked hands pull down a bull in the presence of the 

** Cast him over before he can work more mischief," said 
a voice. But the captain cried out, " Nay, nay, he is sacred ; 
the fire from Heaven has fallen on his brain, and we may 
not harm him, else evil would overtake us all. Bind him 
hand and foot, and bear him hence tenderly to where he can 
be cared for. Surely I thought that these evil-doers were 
giving us too little trouble, and thus it has proved." 

So they set themselves to make fast Nahoon's hands and 
wrists, using as much gentleness as they might, for among 
the Zulus a lunatic is accounted holy. It was no easy task, 
and it took time. 

Hadden glanced around him, and saw his opportunity. 
On the ground close beside him lay his rifle, where one ot 
the soldiers had placed it, and about a dozen yards away 
Maputa's pony was grazing. With a swift movement, he 
seized the Martini and five seconds later he was on the back 
of the pony, heading for the Crocodile Drift at a gallop. Sq 
quickly indeed did he execute this masterly retreat, that 
occupied as they all were in binding Nahoon, for half a 
minute or more none of the soldiers noticed what had 
happened. Then Maputa chanced to see, and waddled after 
him to the top of the rise, screaming : — 

** The white thief, he has stolen my horse, and the gun 
too, the gun that he promised to give me." 

Hadden, who by this time was a hundred yards away, 
heard him clearly, and a rage filled his heart. This man 
had made an open murderer of him ; more, he had been the 
means of robbing him of the girl for whose sake he had 



dipped his hands in these iniquities. He glanced over his 
shoulder ; Maputa was still running, and alone. Yes, there 
was time ; at any rate he would risk it. 

Pulling up the pony with a jerk, he leapt from its back, 
slipping his arm through the rein with an almost simul- 
taneous movement. As it chanced, and as he had hoped 
would be the case, the animal was a trained shooting horse, 
and stood still. Hadden planted his feet firmly on the ground 
and drawing a deep breath, he cocked the rifle and covered 
the advancing chief. Now Maputa saw his purpose and 
with a yell of terror turned to fly. Hadden waited a second 
to get the sight fair on to his broad back, then just as the 
soldiers appeared above the rise he pressed the trigger. He 
was a noted shot, and in this instance his skill did not fail 
him ; for, before he heard the bullet tell, Maputa flung his 
arms wide and plunged to the ground dead. 

Three seconds more, and with a savage curse, Hadden had 
remounted the pony and was riding for his life towards the 
river, which a while later he crossed in safety. 




When Nanea leapt from the dizzy platform that overhung 
the Pool of Doom, a strange fortune befel her. Close in to 
the precipice were many jagged rocks, and on these the 
waters of the fall fell and thundered, bounding from them in 
spouts of spray into the troubled depths of the foss beyond. 
It was on these stones that the life was dashed out of the 
bodies of the wretched victims who were hurled from above. 
But Nanea, it will be remembered, had not waited to be 
treated thus, and as it chanced the strong spring with which 
she had leapt to death carried her clear of the rocks. By a 
very little she missed the edge of them and striking the deep 
water head first like some practised diver, she sank down 
and down till she thought that she would never rise again. 
Yet she did rise, at the end of the pool in the mouth of the 
rapid, along which she sped swiftly, carried down by the rush 
of the water. Fortunately there were no rocks here ; and, 
since she was a skilful swimmer, she escaped the danger of 
being thrown against the banks. 

For a long distance she was borne thus till at length she 
saw that she was in a forest, for trees cut off the light from 
the water, and their drooping branches swept its surface. 
One of these Nanea caught with her hand, and by the help 
of it she dragged herself from the River of Death whence 
none had escaped before. Now she stood' upon the bank 
gasping but quite unharmed ; there was not a scratch on 
her body ; even her white garment was still fast about her 


But though she had suffered no hurt in her terrible voyage, 
so exhausted was Nanea that she could scarcely stand. 
Here the gloom was that of night, and shivering with cold 
she looked round helplessly to find some refuge. Close to 
the water's edge grew an enormous yellow-wood tree, and to 
this she staggered — thinking to climb it, and seek shelter in 
its boughs where, as she hoped, she would be safe from 
wild beasts. Again fortune befriended her, for at a distance 
of a few feet from the ground there was a great hole in 
the tree which, she discovered, was hollow. Into this 
hole she crept, taking her chance of its being the home of 
snakes or other evil creatures, to find that the interior was 
wide and warm. It was dry also, for at the bottom of the 
cavity lay a foot or more of rotten tinder and moss brought 
there by rats or birds. Upon this tinder she lay down, and 
covering herself with the moss and leaves soon sank into 
sleep or stupor. 

How long Nanea slept she did not know, but at length 
she was awakened by a sound as of guttural human voices 
talking in a language that she could not understand. Rising 
to her knees she peered out of the hole in the tree. It was 
night, but the stars shone brilliantly, and their light fell upon 
an open circle of ground close by the edge of the river. In 
this circle there burned a great fire, and at a little distance 
from the fire were gathered eight or ten horrible-looking 
beings, who appeared to be rejoicing over something that 
lay upon the ground. They were small in stature, men and 
women together, but no children, and all of them were 
nearly naked. Their hair was long and thin, growing down 
almost to the eyes, their jaws and teeth protruded and the 
girth of their black bodies was out of all proportion to their 
height. In their hands they held sticks with sharp stones 
lashed on to them, or rude hatchet-like knives of the same 

Now Nanea's heart shrank within her, and she nearly 
fainted with fear, for she knew that she was in tht h%Mtv\ft& 



forest, and without a doubt these were the Esemkofu, the 
evil ghosts that dwelt therein. Yes, that was what they 
were, and yet she could not take her eyes off them — the sight 
of them held her with a horrible fascination. But if they 
were ghosts, why did they sing and dance like men ? Why 
did they wave those sharp stones aloft, and quarrel and strike 
each other ? And why did they make a fire as men do 
when they wish to cook food ? More, what was it that they 
rejoiced over, that long dark thing which lay so quiet upon 
the ground ? It did not look like a head of game, and it 
could scarcely be a crocodile, yet clearly it was food of some 
sort, for they were sharpening the stone knives in order to 
cut it up. 

While she wondered thus, one of the dreadful-looking 
little creatures advanced to the fire, and taking from it a 
burning bough, held it over the thing that lay upon the 
ground, to give light to a companion who was about to do 
something to it with the stone knife. Next instant Nanea 
drew back her head from the hole, a stifled shriek upon her 
lips. She saw what it was now — it was the body of a man. 
Yes, and these were no ghosts ; they were cannibals of whom 
when she was little, her mother had told her tales to keep 
her from wandering away from home. 

But who was the man they were about to eat ? It could 
not be one of themselves, for his stature was much greater. 
Oh ! now she knew ; it must be Nahoon, who had been killed 
up yonder, and whose dead body the waters had brought 
down to the haunted forest as they had brought her alive^ 
Yes, it must be Nahoon, and she would be forced to see her 
husband devoured before her eyes. The thought of it over- 
whelmed her. That he should die by order of the king was 
natural, but that he should be buried thus ! Yet what could 
she do to prevent it ? Well, if it cost her her life, it should 
be prevented. At the worst they could only kill and eat her 
also, and now that Nahoon and her father were gone, 
being untroubled by any religious or spiritual hopes and 


fears, she was not greatly concerned to keep her own breath 
in her. 

Slipping through the hole in the tree, Nanea walked 
quietly towards the cannibals — not knowing in the least 
what she should do when she reached them. As she 
arrived in line with the fire this lack of programme came 
home to her mind forcibly, and she paused to reflect. Just 
then one of the cannibals looked up to see a tall and stately 
figure wrapped in a white garment which, as the flame-light 
flickered on it, seemed now to advance from the dense back- 
ground of shadow, and now to recede into it. The poor 
savage wretch was holding a stone knife in his teeth when 
he beheld her, but it did not remain there long, for opening 
his great jaws he uttered the most terrified and piercing yell 
that Nanea had ever heard. Then the others saw her also, 
and presently the forest was ringing with shrieks of fear. 
For a few seconds the outcasts stood and gazed, then they 
were gone this way and that, bursting their path through 
the undergrowth like startled jackals. The Esemkofu of 
Zulu tradition had been routed in their own haunted home 
by what they took to be a spirit. 

Poor Esemkofu ! they were but miserable and starving 
bushmen who, driven into that place of ill omen many years 
ago, had adopted this means, the only one open to them, to 
keep the life in their wretched bodies. Here at least they 
were unmolested, and as there was little other food to be 
found amid that wilderness of trees, they took what the 
river brought them. When executions were few in the Pool 
of Doom, times were hard for them indeed — for then they were 
driven to eat each other. That is why there were no children. 

As their inarticulate outcry died away in the distance, Nanea 
ran forward to look at the body that lay on the ground, and 
staggered back with a sigh of relief. It was not Nahoon, 
but she recognised the face for that of one of the party of 
executioners. How did he come here ? Had Nahoon killed 
him ? Had Nahoon escaped ? She could not tell, at\d ^1 vVv^ 


best it was improbable, but still the sight of this dead soldier 
lit her heart with a faint ray of hope, for how did he come to 
be dead if Nahoon had no hand in his death ? She could not 
bear to leave him lying so near her hiding-place, however ; 
therefore, with no small toil, she rolled the corpse back into 
the water, which carried it swiftly away. Then she returned 
to the tree, having first replenished the fire, and awaited the 


At last it came — so much of it as ever penetrated this dark- 
some den — and Nanea, becoming aware that she was hungry, 
descended from the tree to search for food. All day long she 
searched, finding nothing, till towards sunset she remembered 
that on the outskirts of the forest there was a flat rock where 
it was the custom of those who had been in any way afHicted, 
or who considered themselves or their belongings to be 
bewitched, to place propitiatory offerings of food wherewith 
the Esemkofu and Amalhosi were supposed to satisfy their 
spiritual cravings. Urged by the pinch of starvation, to this 
spot Nanea journeyed rapidly, and found to her joy that some 
neighbouring kraal had evidently been in recent trouble, for 
the Rock of Offering was laden with cobs of corn, gourds of 
milk, porridge and even meat. Helping herself to as much 
as she could carry, she returned to her lair, where she drank 
of the milk and cooked meat and mealies at the fire. Then 
she crept back into the tree, and slept. 

For nearly two months Nanea lived thus in the forest, 
since she could not venture out of it — fearing lest she should 
be seized, and for a second time taste of the judgment of the 
king. In the forest at least she was safe, for none dared 
enter there, nor did the Esemkofu give her further trouble. 
Once or twice she saw them, but on each occasion they fled 
shrieking from her presence — seeking some distant retreat, 
where they hid themselves or perished. Nor did food fail 
her, for finding that it was taken, the pious givers brought 
it in plenty to the Rock of Offering. 

But, oh ! the life' was dreadful, and the gloom and loneliness 


coupled with her sorrows at times drove her almost to in- 
sanity. Still she lived on, though often she desired to die, 
for if her father was dead, the corpse she had found was not 
the corpse of Nahoon, and in her heart there still shone that 
spark of hope. Yet what she hoped for she could not tell. 

When Philip Hadden reached civilised regions, he found 
that war was ahout to he declared between the Queen and 
Cetywayo, King of the Amazulu ; also that in the prevailing 
excitement his little adventure with the Utrecht store-keeper 
had been overlooked or forgotten. -He was the owner of two 
good buck-waggons with spans of salted oxen, and at that 
time vehicles were much in request to carry military stores 
for the columns which were to advance into Zululand ; indeed 
the transport authorities were glad to pay £90 a month for 
the hire of each waggon and to guarantee the owners against 
all loss of cattle. Although he was not desirous of return- 
ing to Zululand, this bait proved too much for Hadden, 
who accordingly leased out his waggons to the Commissariat, 
together with his own services as conductor and interpreter. 

He was attached to No. 3 column of the invading force, 
which it may be remembered was under the immediate com- 
mand of Lord Chelmsford, and on the 20th of January, 1879, 
he marched with it by the road that runs from Rorke's Drift 
to the Indeni forest, and encamped that night beneath the 
shadow of the steep and desolate mountain known as 

That day also a great army of King Cetywayo's, numbering 
twenty thousand men and more, moved down from the 
Upindo Hill and camped upon the stony plain that lies a 
mile and a half to the east of Isandhlwana. No fires were 
lit, and it lay there in utter silence, for the warriors were 
*' sleeping on their spears ". 

With that impi was the Umcityu regiment, three thousand 
five hundred strong. At the first break of dawn the Induna 
in command of the Umcityu looked up from betv^«A)c\ \)cv^ 


shelter of the black shield with which he had covered his 
body, and through the thick mist he saw a great man stand- 
ing before him, clothed only in a moocha, a gaunt wild-eyed 
man who held a rough club in his hand. When he was 
spoken to^ the man made no answer ; he only leaned upon 
his club looking from left to right along the dense array 
of innumerable shields. 

** Who is this Silwana (wild creature) ? " asked the Induna 
of his captains wondering. 

The captains stared at the wanderer, and one of them 
replied, ** This is Nahoon-ka-Zomba, it is the son of Zomba 
who not long ago held rank in this regiment of the Umcityu. 
His betrothed, Nanea, daughter of Umgona, was killed 
together with her father by order of the Black One, and 
Nahoon went mad with grief at the sight of it, for the fire 
of Heaven entered his brain, and mad he has wandered 
ever since." 

" What would you here, Nahoon-ka-Zomba ? " asked the 

Then Nahoon spoke slowly. ** My regiment goes down 
to war against the white men ; give me a shield and a spear, 
O Captain of the king, that I may fight with my regiment, 
for I seek a face in the battle." 

So they gave him a shield and a spear^ for they dared not 
turn away one whose brain was alight with the fire of 

When the sun was high that day, bullets began to fall 
among the ranks of the Umcityu. Then the black-shielded, 
black-plumed Umcityu arose, company by company, and 
after them arose the whole vast Zulu army, breast and horns 
together, and swept down in silence upon the doomed 
British camp, a moving sheen of spears. The bullets 
pattered on the shields, the shells tore long lines through 
their array, but they never halted nor wavered. Forward on 
either side shot out the horns of armed men, clasping the 





R I 

So he fled straighi 


camp in an embrace of steel. Then as these began to close, 
out burst the war cry of the Zulus, and with the roar of 
a torrent and the rush of a storm, with a sound like the 
humming of a billion bees, wave after wave the deep breast 
of the impi rolled down upon the white men. With it went 
the black-shielded Umcityu and with them went Nahoon, 
the son of Zomba. A bullet struck him in the side, glancing 
from his ribs, he did not heed ; a white man fell from his 
horse before him, he did not stab, for he sought but one 
face in the battle. 

He sought — and at last he found. There, among the 
waggons where the spears were busiest, there standing by 
his horse and firing rapidly was Black Heart, he who had 
given Nanea his betrothed to death. Three soldiers stood 
between them, one of them Nahoon stabbed, and two he 
brushed aside; then he rushed straight at Hadden. 

But the white man saw him come, and even through the 
mask of his madness he knew Nahoon again, and terror 
took hold of him. Throwing away the empty rifle, for his 
ammunition was spent, he leaped upon his horse and drove 
his spurs into its flanks. Away it went among the carnage, 
springing over the dead and bursting through the lines of 
shields, and after it came Nahoon, running long and low 
with head stretched forward and trailing spear, running as 
a hound runs when the buck is at view. 

H addends first plan was to head for Rorke's Drift, but a 
glance to the left showed him that the masses of the Undi 
barred that way, so he fled straight on, leaving his path to 
fortune. In five minutes he was over a ridge, and there was 
nothing of the battle to be seen, in ten all sounds of it had 
died away, for few guns were fired in the dread race to 
Fugitive's Drift, and the assegai makes no noise. In some 
strange fashion, even at this moment, the contrast between 
the dreadful scene of blood and turmoil that he had left, and 
the peaceful face of Nature over which he was passing, came 
home to his brain vividly. Here birds sang and cattle 


grazed ; here the sun shone undimmed by the smoke of 
cannon, only high up in the blue and silent air long streams 
of vultures could be seen winging their way to the Plain of 

The ground was very rough, and Hadden's horse began to 
tire. He looked over his shoulder — there some two hundred 
yards behind came the Zulu, grim as Death, unswerving as 
Fate. He examined the pistol in his belt ; there was but 
one undischarged cartridge left, all the rest had been fired 
and the pouch was empty. Well, one bullet should be 
enough for one savage : the question was should he stop and 
use it now ? No, he might miss or fail to kill the man ; he 
was on horseback and his foe on foot, surely he could tire 
him out. 

A while passed, and they dashed through a little stream. 
It seemed familiar to Hadden. Yes, that was the pool 
where he used to bathe when he was the guest of Umgona, 
the father of Nanea ; and there on the knoll to his right were 
the huts, or rather the remains of them, for they had been 
burnt with fire. What chance had brought him to this place, 
he wondered ; then again he looked behind him at Nahoon, 
who seemed to read his thoughts, for he shook his spear and 
pointed to the ruined kraal. 

On he went at speed for here the land was level, and to 
his joy he lost sight of his pursuer. But presently there 
came a mile of rocky ground, and when it was past, glancing 
back he saw that Nahoon was once more in his old place. 
His horse's strength was almost spent, but Hadden spurred 
it forward blindly, whither he knew not. Now he was 
travelling along a strip of turf and ahead of him he heard 
the music of a river, while to his left rose a high bank. 
Presently the turf belt bent inwards and there, not twenty 
yards away from him, was a Kaffir hut standing on the brink 
of a river. He looked at it, yes, it was the hut of that 
accursed inyanga, the Bee, and standing by the fence of it 
was none other than the Bee herself. At the sight of her 


the exhausted horse swerved violently, stumbled and came 
to the ground, where it lay panting. Hadden was thrown 
from the saddle but sprang to his feet unhurt. 

** Ah ! Black Heart, is it you ? What news of the battle, 
Black Heart ? ** cried the Bee in a mocking voice. 

** Help me, mother, I am pursued," he gasped. 

•* What of it. Black Heart, it is but by one tired man. Stand 
then and face him, for now Black Heart and White Heart 
are together again. You will not ? Then away to the 
forest and seek shelter among the dead who await you there. 
Tell me, tell me, was it the face of Nanea that I saw beneath 
the waters a while ago ? Good ! bear my greetings to her 
when you two meet in the House of the Dead." 

Hadden looked at the stream ; it was in flood. He could 
not swim it, so followed by the evil laugh of the prophetess, 
he sped towards the forest. After him came Nahoon, his 
tongue hanging from his jaws like the tongue of a 

Now he was in the shadow of the forest, but still he sped 
on following the course of the river, till at length his breath 
failed, and he halted on the further side of a little glade, 
beyond which a great tree grew. Nahoon was more than a 
spear's throw behind him ; therefore he had time to draw 
his pistol and make ready. 

** Halt, Nahoon," he cried, as once before he had cried ; 
** I would speak with you." 

The Zulu heard his voice, and obeyed. 

** Listen," said Hadden. ** We have run a long race and 
fought a long flght, you and I, and we are still alive both of 
us. Very soon, if you come on, one of us must be dead, 
and it will be you, Nahoon, for I am armed and as you know 
I can shoot straight. What do you say ? " 

Nahoon made no answer, but stood still at the edge of 
the glade, his wild and glowering eyes fixed on the white 
man's face and his breath coming in short gasps. 

** Will you let me go, if / let you go ? " Hadden asked once 


more. " I know why you hate me, but the past cannot be 
undone, nor can the dead be brought to earth again/* 

Still Nahoon made no answer, and his silence seemed 
more fateful and more crushing than any speech ; no spoken 
accusation would have been so terrible in Hadden's ear. He 
made no answer, but lifting his assegai he stalked grimly 
toward his foe. 

When he was within five paces Hadden covered him and 
fired. Nahoon sprang aside, but the bullet struck him some- 
where, for his right arm dropped, and the stabbing spear 
that he held was jerked from it harmlessly over the white 
man's head. But still making no sound, the Zulu came on 
and gripped him by the throat with his left hand. For a 
space they struggled terribly, swaying to and fro, but Hadden 
was unhurt and fought with the fury of despair, while Nahoon 
had been twice wounded, and there remained to him but one 
sound arm wherewith to strike. Presently forced to earth by 
the white man's iron strength, the soldier was down, nor 
could he rise again. 

" Now we will make an end," muttered Hadden savagely, 
and he turned to seek the assegai, then staggered slowly 
back with starting eyes and reeling gait. For there before 
him, still clad m her white robe, a spear in her hand, stood 
the spirit of Nanea ! 

"Think of it," he said to himself, dimly remembering the 
words of the inyanga, ** when you stand face to face with 
the ghost of the dead in the Home of the Dead." 

There was a cry and a flash of steel ; the broad spear leapt 
towards him to bury itself in his breast. He swayed, he 
fell, and presently Black Heart clasped that great reward 
which the word of the Bee had promised Him. 

" Nahoon ! Nahoon ! *' murmured a soft voice, " awake, it 
is no ghost, but I — Nanea — I, your living wife, to whom 
my Ehlose ^ has given it me to save you." 

^ Guardian Spirit. 



Nahoon heard and opened his eyes to look and his 
madness left him. 

•* Welcome, wife," he said faintly, " now I will live since 
Death has brought you back to me in the House of the 

To-day Nahoon is one of the Indunas of the English 
Government in Zululand, and there are children about his 
kraal. It was from the lips of none other than Nanea his 
wife that the teller of this tale heard its substance. 

The Bee also lives and practises as much magic as she 
dares under the white man's rule. On her black hand 
shines a golden ring shaped like a snake with ruby eyes, 
and of this trinket the Bee is very proud. 






The world is full of ruins, but few of them have an origin so utterly 
lost in mystery as those of Zimbabwe in South Central Africa. Who 
built them ? What purpose did they serve ? These are questions that 
must have perplexed many generations, and many different races of men. 

The researches of Mr. Wilmot prove to us indeed that in the Middle 
Ages Zimbabwe or Zimboe was the seat of a barbarous empire, whose 
ruler was named the Emperor of Monomotapa, also that for some years 
the Jesuits ministered in a Christian church built beneath the shadow of 
its ancient towers. But of the original purpose of those towers, and of 
the race that reared them, the inhabitants of mediaeval Monomotapa, it 
is probable, knew less even than we know to-day. The labours and 
skilled observation of the late Mr. Theodore Bent, whose death is so 
great a loss to all interested in such matters, have shown almost beyond 
question that Zimbabwe was once an inland Phoenician city, or at the 
least a city whose inhabitants were of a race which practised Phoenician 
customs and worshipped the Phoenician deities. Beyond this all is 
conjecture. How it happened that a trading town, protected by vast 
fortifications and adorned with temples dedicated to the worship of the 
gods of the Sidonians — or rather trading towns, for Zimbabwe is only 
one of a group of ruins — were built by civilised men in the heart of 
Africa perhaps we shall never learn with certainty, though the discovery 
of the burying-places of their inhabitants might throw some light upon 
the problem. 

But if actual proof is lacking, it is scarcely to be doubted — for the 
numerous old workings in Rhodesia tell their own tale — that it was the 
presence of payable gold reefs worked by slave labour which tempted the 
Phoenician merchants and chapmen, contrary to their custom, to travel 
so far from the sea and establish themselves inland. Perhaps the city 
Zimboe was the Ophir spoken of in the firs^ 9ook of King;&, \LVcjVi^% 



is almost certain that its principal industries were the smelting and the 
sale of gold, also it seems probable that expeditions travelling by sea and 
land would have occupied quite three years of time in reaching it from 
Jerusalem and returning thither laden with the gold and precious stones, 
the ivory and the almug trees (i Kings x.). Journeying in Africa must 
have been slow in those days ; that it was also dangerous is testified by 
the ruins of the ancient forts built to protect the route between the gold 
towns and the sea. 

However these things may be, there remains ample room for specula- 
tion both as to the dim beginnings of the ancient city and its still dimmer 
end, whereof we can guess only, when it became weakened by luxury and 
the mixture of races, that hordes of invading savages stamped it out of 
existence beneath their blood-stained feet, as, in after ages, they stamped 
out the Empire of Monomotapa. In the following romantic sketch the 
writer has ventured — no easy task — to suggest incidents such as might 
have accompanied this first extinction of the Phoenician Zimbabwe. The 
pursuit indeed is one in which he can only hope to fill the place of a 
humble pioneer, since it is certain that in years to come the dead fortress- 
temples of South Africa will occupy the pens of many generations of the 
writers of romance who, as he hopes, may have more ascertained facts to 
build upon than are available to-day. 




The sun, which shone upon a day that was gathered to the 
past some three thousand years ago^ was setting in full 
glory over the expanses of south-eastern Africa — the Libya 
of the ancients. Its last burning rays fell upon a cavalcade 
of weary men-, who, together with long strings of camels, 
asses and oxen, after much toil had struggled to the crest 
of a line of stony hills, where they were halted to recover 
breath. Before them lay a plain, clothed with sere yellow 
grass — for the season was winter — and bounded by moun- 
tains of no great height, upon whose slopes stood the city 
which they had travelled far to seek. It was the ancient 
city of Zimboe, whereof the lonely ruins are known to us 
moderns as Zimbabwe. 

At the sight of its flat-roofed houses of sun-dried brick, set 
upon the side of the opposing hill, and dominated' by a huge 
circular building of dark stone, the caravan raised a great 
shout of joy. It shouted in several tongues, in the tongues 
of Phoenicia, of Egypt, of the Hebrews, of Arabia, and of the 
coasts of Africa, for all these peoples were represented amongst 
its numbers. Well might the wanderers cry out in their 
delight, seeing that at length, after eight months of perilous 
travelling from the coast, they beheld the walls of their city of 
rest, of the golden Ophir of the Bible. Their company had 
started from the eastern port, numbering fifteen hundred men, 
besides women and children, and of these not more than half 
were left alive. Once a savage tribe had ambushed them, 
killing many. Once the pestilential fever of the low lands 



had taken them so that they died of it by scores. Twice 
also they had suffered heavily through hunger and thirst, to 
say nothing of their losses by the fangs of lions, crocodiles, 
and other wild beasts with which the country swarmed. 
Now their toils were over ; and for six months, or perhaps 
a year, they might rest and trade in the Great City, enjoying 
its wealth, its flesh-pots, and the unholy orgies which, 
among people of the Phoenician race, were dignified by the 
name of the worship of the gods of heaven. 

Soon the clamour died away, and although no command 
was given, the caravan started on at speed. All weariness 
faded from the faces of the wayworn travellers, even the 
very camels and asses, shrunk, as most of them were, to 
mere skeletons, seemed to understand that labour and blows 
were done with, and forgetting their loads, shambled unurged 
down the stony path. One man lingered, however. Clearly 
he was a person of rank, for eight or ten attendants sur- 
rounded him. 

** Go," said he, *' I wish to be alone, and will follow 
presently." So they bowed to the earth, and went. 

The man was young, perhaps six or eight and twenty 
years of age. His dark skin, burnt almost to blackness by 
the heat of the sun, together with the fashion of his short, 
square-cut beard and of his garments, proclaimed him of 
Jewish or Egyptian blood, while the gold collar about his 
neck and the gold graven ring upon his hand showed that 
his rank was high. Indeed this wanderer was none other 
than the prince Aziel, nick-named the Everliving, beca\]se 
of a curious mole upon his shoulder bearing a resemblance 
to the crux ansata, the symbol of life eternal among the 
Egyptians. By blood he was a grandson of Solomon, the 
mighty king of Israel, and born of a royal mother, a princess 
of Egypt. 

In stature Aziel was tall, but somewhat slimly made, 
having small bones. His face was oval in shape, the 
features, especially the mouth, being fine and sensitive; 


the eyes were large, dark, and full of thought — the eyes of a 
man with a destiny. For the most part, indeed, they were 
sombre and over-full of thought, but at times they could 
light up with a strange fire. 

Aziel the prince placed his hand against his forehead in 
such fashion as to shade his face from the rays of the setting 
sun, and from beneath its shadow gazed long and earnestly 
at the city of the hill. 

** At length I behold thee, thanks be to God," he murmured, 
for he was a worshipper of Jehovah, and not of his mother's 
deities, " and it is time, since, to speak truth, I am weary of 
this travelling. Now what fortune shall I find within thy 
walls, O City of Gold and devil-servers ? " 

" Who can tell ? " said a quiet voice at his elbow. ** Per- 
haps, Prince, you will find a wife, or a throne, or — a grave." 

Aziel started, and turned to see a man standing at his 
side, clothed in robes that had been rich, but were now torn 
and stained with travel, and wearing on his head a black 
cap in shape not unlike the fez that is common in the East 
to-day. The man was past middle age, having a grizzled 
beard, sharp, hard features and quick eyes, which withal 
were not unkindly. He was a Phcenician merchant, much 
trusted by Hiram, the King of Tyre, who had made him 
captain of the merchandise of this expedition. 

"Ah! is it you, Metem ? " said Aziel. ** Why do you 
leave your charge to return to me ? " 

** That I may guard a more precious charge — yourself. 
Prince," replied the merchant courteously. '* Having brought 
the child of Israel so far in safety, I desire to hand him safely 
to the governor of yonder city. Your servants told me that 
by your command they had left you alone, so I returned to 
bear you company, for after nightfall robbers and savages 
wander without these walls." 

" I thank you for your care, Metem, though I think there 
is little danger, and at the worst I can defend myself." 

** Do not thank me, Prince ; I am a merchant, and now. 


as in the past, I protect you, knowing that for it I shall be 
paid. The governor will give me a rich reward when I lead 
you to him safely, and when in years to come I return with 
you still safe to the court of Jerusalem, then the great king 
will fill my ship^s hold with gifts." 

** That depends, Metem," replied the Prince. ** If my 
grandfather still reigns it may be so, but he is very old, and 
if my uncle wears his crown, then I am not sure. Truly 
you Phoenicians love money. Would you, then, sell me for 
gold also, Metem ? " 

" I said not so, Prince, though even friendship has its 
price " 

** Among your people, Metem ? " 

** Among all people, Prince. You reproach us with loving 
money ; well, we do, since money gives everything for which 
men strive — honour, and place, and comfort, and the friend- 
ship of kings." 

" It cannot give you love, Metem." 

The Phoenician laughed contemptuously. '* Love ! with 
gold I will buy as much of it as I need. Are there no slaves 
upon the market, and no free women who desire ornaments 
and ease and the purple of Tyre ? You are young, Prince, 
to say that gold cannot buy us love." 

'* And you, Metem, who are growing old, do not understand 
what I mean by love, nor will I stay to explain it to you, for 
were my words as wise as Solomon's, still you would not 
understand. At the least your money cannot bring you the 
blessing of Heaven, nor the welfare of your spirit in the 
eternal life that is to come." 

" The welfare of my spirit. Prince ? No, it cannot, since 
I do not believe that I have a spirit. When I die, I die, 
and there is an end. But the blessing of Heaven, ah ! that 
can be bought, as I have proved once and again, if not with 
gold, then otherwise. Did I not in bygone years pass the 
first son of my manhood through the fire to Baal-Sidon ? 

y, shrink not from me; it cost me dear, but my fortune 


was at stake, and better that the boy should die than that 
all of us should live on in penury and bonds. Know you 
not. Prince, that the gods must have gifts of the best, gifts 
of blood and virtue, or they will curse us and torment us ? " 

** I do not know it, Metem, for such gods are no gods, 
but devils, children of Beelzebub, who has no power over the 
righteous. Truly I would have none of your two gods, 
Phoenician ; upon earth the god of gold, and in heaven the 
devil of slaughter." 

** Speak no ill of him, Prince," answered Metem solemnly, 
** for here you are not in the courts of Jehovah, but in his 
land, and he may chance to prove his power on you. For 
the rest, I had sooner follow after gold than the folly of a 
drunken spirit which you name Love, seeing that it works 
its votary less mischief. Say now, it was a woman and her 
love that drove you hither to this wild land, was it not, 
Prince ? Well, be careful lest a woman and her love should 
keep you here." 

" The sun sets," said Aziel coldly ; '* let us go forward." 

With a bow and a murmured salute, for his quick courtier 
instinct told him that he had spoken too freely, Metem took 
the bridle of the prince's mule, holding the stirrup while he 
mounted. Then he turned to seek his own, but the animal 
had wandered, and a full half hour went by before it could 
be captured. 

By now the sun had set, and as there is little or no 
twilight in Southern Africa it became difficult for the two 
travellers to find their way down the rough hill path. Still 
they stumbled on, till presently the long dead grass brushing 
against their knees told them that they had lost the road, 
although they knew that they were riding in the right 
direction, for the watch-fires burning on the city walls were 
a g^ide to them. Soon, however, they lost sight of these 
fires, the boughs of a grove of thickly-leaved trees hiding 
them from view, and in trying to push their way through 
the wood Metem's mule stumbled against a root aud feU, 



" Now there is but one thing to be done," said the Phoe- 
nician, as he dragged the animal from the ground, '* and it 
is to stay here till the moon rises, which should be within 
an hour. It would have been wiser, Prince, if we had 
waited to discuss love and the gods till we were safe within 
the walls of the city, for the end of it is that we have fallen 
into the hands of king Darkness, and he is the father of 
many evil things." 

** That is so, Metem,'* answered the prince, '* and I am to 
blame. Let us bide here in patience, since we must.**- 

So, holding their mules by the bridles, they sat down 
upon the ground and waited in silence, for each of them 
was lost in his own thoughts. 




At length, as the two men sat thus silently, for the place 
and its gloom oppressed them, a sound broke upon the quiet 
of the night, that beginning with a low wail such as might 
come from the lips of a mourner, ended in a chant or song. 
The voice, which seemed close at hand, was low, rich and 
passionate. At times it sank almost to a sob, and at times, 
taking a higher note, it thrilled upon the air in tones that 
would have been shrill were they not so sweet. 

*' Who is it that sings ? " said Aziel to Metem. 

** Be silent, I pray you,*' whispered the other in his ear ; 
'* we have wandered into one of the sacred groves of Baaltis, 
which it is death for men to enter save at the appointed 
festivals, and a priestess of the grove chants her prayer to 
the goddess." 

*' We did not come of our own will, so doubtless we shall 
be forgiven,'* answered Aziel indifferently ; ** but that song 
moves me. Tell me the words of it, which I can scarcely 
follow, for her accent is strange to me." 

** Prince, they seem to be holy words to which I have 
little right to hearken. The priestess sings an ancient 
hallowed chant of life and death, and she prays that the 
goddess may touch her soul with the wing of fire and make 
her great and give her vision of things that have been and 
that shall be. More I dare not tell you now ; indeed I can 
barely hear, and the song is hard to understand. Crouch 
down, for the moon rises, and pray that the mules may not 
stir. Presently she will go, and we can fly the holy place." 


The Israelite obeyed and waited, searching the darkness 
with eager eyes. 

Now the edge of the great moon appeared upon the 
horizon, and by degrees her white rays of light revealed a 
strange scene to the watchers. About an open space of 
ground, some eighty paces in diameter, grew seven huge 
and ancient baobab trees, so ancient indeed that they must 
have been planted by the primaeval hand of nature rather 
than by that of man. Aziel and his companion were hidden 
with their mules behind the trunk of one of these trees, and 
looking round it they perceived that the open space beyond 
the shadow of the branches was not empty. In the centre 
of this space stood an altar, and by it was placed the rude 
figure of a divinity carved in wood and painted. On the 
head of this figure rose a crescent symbolical of the moon, 
and round its neck hung a chain of wooden stars. It had 
four wings but no hands, and of these wings two were 
out-spread and two clasped a shapeless object to its breast} 
intended, apparently, to represent a child. By these symbols 
Aziel knew that before him was an effigy sacred to the 
goddess of the Phoenicians, who in different countries passed 
by the various names of Astarte, or Ashtoreth, or Baaltis, 
and who in their coarse worship was at once the personifica- 
tion of the moon and the emblem of fertility. 

Standing before this rude fetish, between it and the altar, 
whereon lay some flowers, and in such fashion that the 
moonlight struck full upon her, was a white-robed woman. 
She was young and very beautiful both in shape and feature, 
and though her black hair streaming almost to the knees 
took from her height, she still seemed tall. Her rounded 
arms were outstretched ; her sweet and passionate face was 
upturned towards the sky, and even at that distance the 
watchers could see her deep eyes shining in the moonlight. 
The sacred song of the priestess was finished. Now she 
was praying aloud, slowly, and in a clear voice, so that 
Aziel could hear and understand her ; praying from her 


very heart, not to the idol before her, however, but to the 
moon above. 

" O Queen of Heaven," she said, ** thou whose throne I 
see but whose face I cannot see, hear the prayer of thy 
priestess, and protect me from the fate I fear, and rid me of 
him I hate. Safe let me dwell and pure, and as thou fillest 
the night with light, so fill the darkness of my soul with the 
wisdom that I crave. O whisper into my ears and let me 
hear the voice of heaven, teaching me that which I would 
know. Read me the riddle of my life, and let me learn 
wherefore I am not as my sisters are ; why feasts and 
offerings delight me not ; why I thirst for knowledge and 
not for wealth, and why I crave such love as here I cannot 
win. Satisfy my being with thy immortal lore and a love 
that does not fail or die, and if thou wilt, then take my life 
in payment. Speak to me from the heaven above, O Baaltis, 
or show me some sign upoiv the earth beneath ; fill up the 
vessel of my thirsty soul and satisfy the hunger of my spirit. 
Oh ! thou that art the goddess, thou that hast the gift of 
power, give me, thy servant, of thy power, of thy godhead, 
and of thy peace. Hear me, O Heaven-born, hear me, 
Elissa, the daughter of Sakon, the dedicate of thee. Hear, 
hear, and answer now in the secret holy hour, answer by 
voice, by wonder, or by symbol." 

The woman paused as though exhausted with the passion 
of her prayer, hiding her face in her hands, and as she stood 
thus silent and expectant^ the sign came, or at least that 
chanced which for a while she believed to have been an 
answer to her invocation. Her face was hidden, so she 
could not see, and fascinated by her beauty as it appeared 
to them in that unhallowed spot, and by the depth and 
dignity of her wild prayer, the two watchers had eyes for 
her alone. Therefore it happened that not until his arm 
was about her to drag her away, did either of them perceive 
a huge man, black as ebony in colour, clad in a cloak of 
leopard skins and carrying in his right hand a broad-bladed 


Spear who, following the shadow of the trees, had crept 
upon the priestess from the farther side of the glade. 

With a guttural exclamation of triumph he gripped her in 
his left arm, and, despite her struggles and her shrill cry for 
help, began half to drag and half to carry her towards the 
deep shade of the baobab grove. Instantly Aziel and Metera 
sprang up and rushed forward, drawing their bronze swords 
while they ran. As it chanced, however, the Israelite 
caught his foot in one of the numerous tree-roots which 
stood above the surface of the ground and fell heavily upon 
his face. In a few seconds, twenty perhaps, he found his 
breath and feet again, to see that Metem had come up with 
the black giant who, hearing his approach, suddenly wheeled 
round to meet him, still holding the struggling priestess in 
his grasp. Now the Phoenician was so close upon him that 
the savage could find no time to shift the grip upon his 
spear, but drove at him with the knobbed end of its handle, 
striking him full upon the forehead and felling him as a 
butcher fells an ox. Then once more he turned to fly with 
his captive, but before he had covered ten yards the sound 
of Aziel's approaching footsteps caused him to wheel round 

At sight of the Israelite advancing upon him with 
drawn sword, the great barbarian freed himself from his 
burden of the girl by throwing her heavily to the ground, 
where she lay, for the breath was shaken out of her. Then 
snatching the cloak from his throat he wound it over his 
left arm to serve as a shield, and with a savage yell, rushed 
straight at Aziel, purposing to transfix him with the broad- 
headed spear. 

Well was it for the prince that he had been trained in 
sword-play from his youth, also, notwithstanding his slight 
build, that he was strong and active as a leopard. To 
await the onslaught would be to die, for the spear must 
pierce him before ever he could reach the attacker's body 
>vith his short sword. Therefore, as the weapon flashed 


upward he sprang aside, avoiding it, at the same time, with 
one swift sweep of his sword, slashing its holder across the 
back as he passed him. 

With a howl of pain and rage the savage sprang round 
and charged him a second time. Again Aziel leapt to one 
side, but now he struck with all his force at the spear shaft 
which his assilant lifted to guard his head. So strong was 
the blow and so sharp the heavy sword, that it shore through 
the wood, severing the handle from the spear, which fell to 
the ground. Casting away the useless shaft, the warrior 
drew a long knife from his girdle, and before Aziel could 
strike again faced him for the third time. But he no longer 
rushed onward like a bull, for he had learnt caution ; he 
stood still, holding the skin cloak before him shield fashion, 
and peering at his adversary from over its edge. 

Now it was AziePs turn to take the oflfensive, and slowly 
he circled round the huge barbarian, watching his oppor- 
tunity. At length it came. In answer to a feint of his 
the protecting cloak was dropped a little, enabling him to 
prick its bearer in the neck, but only with the point of his 
sword. The thrust delivered, he leapt back, and not too 
soon, for forgetting his caution in his fury, the savage 
charged straight at him with a roar like that of a lion. So 
swift and terrible was his onset that Aziel, having no time 
to spring aside, did the only thing possible. Gripping the 
ground with his feet, he bent his body forward, and with 
outstretched arm and sword, braced up his muscles to receive 
the charge. Another instant, and the leopard skin cloak 
fluttered before him. With a quick movement of his left 
arm he swept it aside ; then there came a sudden pressure 
upon his sword ending in a jarring shock, a flash of steel 
above his head, and down he went to the ground beneath 
the weight of the black giant. 

** Now there is an end," he thought; "Heaven receive 
my spirit." And his senses left him. 

When they returned again, Aziel perceived dimly that a 


white-draped figure bent over him, dragging at something 
black which crushed his breast, who, as she dragged, sobbed 
in her grief and fear. Then he remembered, and with an 
effort sat up, rolling from him the corpse of his foe, for his 
sword had pierced the barbarian through breast and heart 
and back. At this sight the woman ceased her sobbing, and 
said in the Phcenician tongue : — 

** Sir, do you indeed live ? Then the protecting gods be 
thanked, and to Baaltis the Mother I vow a gift of this hair 
of mine in gratitude." 

*' Nay, lady," he answered faintly, for he was much shaken, 
** that would be a pity ; also, if any, it is my hair which should 
be vowed." 

** You bleed from the head," she broke in ; ** say, stranger, 
are you deeply wounded ? " 

** I will tell you nothing of my head," he replied, with a 
smile, "unless you promise that you will not offer up your hair." 

** So be it, stranger, since I must ; I will givt the goddess 
this gold chain instead ; it is of more worth." 

**You would do better, lady," said the shrill voice of 
Metem, who by now had found his wits again, **to give the 
gold chain to me whose scalp has been broken in rescuing 
you from that black thief" 

** Sir," she answered, " I am grateful to you from my heart, 
but it is this young lord who killed the man and saved me 
from slavery worse than death, and he shall be rewarded by 
my father." 

'* Listen to her," grumbled Metem. '* Did I not rush in 
first in my folly and receive what I deserved for my pains ? 
But I am to have neither thanks nor pay, who am but an old 
merchant ; they are lor the young prince who came after. 
Well, so it ever was ; the thanks I can spare, and the reward 
I shall claim from the treasury of the goddess. 

*' Now, Prince, let me see your hurt. Ah ! a cut on the 
ear, no more, and thank your natal star it is so, for another 
inch and the great vein of the neck would have been severed. 


Prince, if you are able, draw out your sword from the carcase 
of that brute, for I have tried and cannot loosen the blade. 
Then perhaps this lady will guide us to the city before his 
fellows come to seek him, seeing that for one night I have 
had a stomach full of fighting." 

'* Sirs, I will indeed. It is close at hand, and my father 
will thank you there ; but if it is your pleasure, tell me by 
what names I shall make known to him you whose rank 
seems to be so high ? " 

" Lady, I am Metem the Phcenician, captain of the mer- 
chandise of the caravan of Hiram, King of Tyre, and this 
lord who slew the thief is none other than the prince Aziel, 
the twice royal, for he is grandson to the glorious King of 
Israel, and through his mother of the blood of the Pharaohs 
of Egypt." 

*' And yet he risked his life to save me," the girl murmured 
astonished ; then dropping to her knees before Aziel, she 
touched the ground with her forehead in obeisance, giving 
him thanks, and praising him after the fashion of the East. 

** Rise, lady," he broke in, ** because I chance to be a 
prince I have not ceased to be a man, and no man could 
have seen you in such a plight without striking a blow on 
your behalf." 

** No," added Metem, ** none ; that is, as you happen to be 
noble and young and lovely. Had you been old and ugly 
and humble, then the black man might have carried you 
from here to Tyre ere I risked my neck to stop him, or 
for the matter of that, although he will deny it, the prince 

** Men do not often show their hearts so clearly," she 
answered with sarcasm. ** But now, lords, I will guide you 
to the city before more harm befalls us, for this dead man 
may have companions." 

*' Our mules are here, lady; will you not ride mine?" 
asked Aziel. 

" I thank you. Prince, but my feet will carry me," 


" And so will mine/* said Aziel, ceasing from a prolonged 
and fruitless effort to loosen his sword from the breast-bone 
of the savage, ** on such paths they are safer than any beasts. 
Friend, will you lead my mule with yours ? " 

"Ay, Prince," grumbled Metem, "for so the world goes 
with the old ; you take the fair lady for company and I a she- 
ass. Well, of the two give me the ass which is more safe 
and does not chatter." 

Then they started, Aziel leaving his short sword in the 
keeping of the dead man. 

" How are you named, lady ? " he said presently, adding 
'' or rather I need not ask; you are Elissa, the daughter of 
Sakon, Governor of Zimboe, are you not ? " 

" I am so called, Prince, though how you know it I cannot 

** I heard you name yourself, lady, in the prayer you made 
before the altar." 

** You heard my prayer, Prince ? " she said starting. ** Do 
you not know that it is death to that man who hearkens to 
the prayer of a priestess of Baaltis, uttered in her holy grove ? 
Still, none know it save the goddess, who sees all, therefore 
I beseech you for your own sake and the sake of your com- 
panion, say nothing of it in the city, lest it should come to 
the ears of the priests of El." 

" Certainly it would have been death to you had I not 
chanced to hear it, having lost my way in the darkness," 
answered the prince laughing. " Well, since I did hear it I 
will add that it was a beautiful prayer, revealing a heart high 
and pure, though I grieve that it should have been offered to 
one whom I hold to be a demon." 

** I am honoured," she answered coldly ; *' but. Prince, 
you forget that though you, being a Hebrew, worship Him 
they call Jehovah, or so I have been told, I, being of the 
blood of the Sidonians, worship the lady Baaltis, the Queen 
of Heaven the holy one of whom I am a priestess." 

'* So it is, alas ! " he said, with a sigh, adding : — 


** Well, let us not dispute of these matters, though, if you 

wish, the prophet Issachar, the Levite who accompanies me, 
can explain the truth of them to you." 

Elissa made no reply, and for a while they walked on in 

** Who was that black robber whom I slew ? " Aziel asked 

** I am not sure, Prince/* she answered, hesitating, *' but 
savages such as he haunt the outskirts of the city seeking to 
steal white women to be their wives. Doubtless he watched 
my steps, following me into the holy place." 

** Why, then, did you venture there alone, lady ? " 
*' Because, to be heard, such prayers as mine must be 
offered in solitude in the consecrated grove, and at the hour 
of the rising of the moon. Moreover, cannot Baaltis protect 
her priestess. Prince, and did she not protect her ? " 

** I thought, lady, that I had something to do with the 
matter," he answered. 

" Ay, Prince, it was your hand that struck the blow which 
killed the thief, but Baaltis, and no other, led you to the 
place to rescue me.*' 

** I understand, lady. To save you, Baaltis, laying aside 
her own power, led a mortal man to the grove, which it is 
death that mortal man should violate." 

'* Who can fathom the way of the gods ? " she replied with 
passion, then added, as though reasoning with a new-born 
doubt, ** Did not the goddess hear my prayer and answer it ? " 
** In truth, lady, I cannot say. Let me think. If I under- 
stood you rightly, ' you prayed for heavenly wisdom, but 
whether or not you have gained it within this last hour, I do 
not know. And then you prayed for love, an immortal love. 
O, maiden, has it come to you since yonder moon appeared 

upon the sky ? And you prayed " 

" Peace ! " she broke in, ** peace and mock me not, or, 
prince that you are, I will publish your crime of spying 
upon the prayer of a priestess of Baaltis. I tell you that 


I prayed for a symbol and a sign, and the prayer was 

** Did not the black giant spring upon me to bear me away 
to be his slave — his, or another's ? And is he not a symbol 
of the evil and the ignorance which are on the earth and 
that seek to drag down the beauty and the wisdom of the 
earth to their own level ? Then the Phoenician ran to rescue 
me and was defeated, since the spirit of Mammon cannot 
overcome the black powers of ill. Next you came and fought 
hard and long, till in the end you slew the mighty foe, you a 

Prince born of the royal blood of the world ** and she 


** You have a pretty gift of parable, lady, as it should be 
with one who interprets the oracles of a goddess. But you 
have not told me of what I, your servant, am the symbol." 

She stopped in her walk and looked him full in the face. 

** I never heard," she said, *' that either the Jews or the 
Egyptians, being instructed, were blind to the reading of an 
allegory. But, Prince, if you cannot read this one it is not 
for me, who am but a woman, to set it out to you." 

Just then their glances met, and in the clear moonlight 
Aziel saw a wave of doubt sweep over his companion's dark 
and beautiful eyes, and a faint Hush appear upon her brow. 
He saw, and something stirred at his heart that till this hour 
he had never felt, something which even now he knew it 
would trouble him greatly to escape. 

** Tell me, lady," he asked, his voice sinking almost to 
a whisper, **in this fable of yours am I even for an hour 
deemed worthy to play the part of that immortal love 
embodied which you sought so earnestly a while ago ? " 

** Immortal love. Prince," she answered in a new voice, 
a voice low and deep, '* is not for one hour, but for all hours 
that are and are to be. You, and you alone, can know if you 
would dare to play such a part as this — even in a fable." 

** Perchance, lady, there lives a woman for whom it might 
be dared." 


" Prince, no such woman lives, since immortal love must 

deal, not with the flesh, but with the spirit. If a spirit 

worthy to be thus loved and worshipped now wanders in 

earthly shape upon the world, seeking its counterpart and its 

completion, I cannot tell. Yet were it so, and should they 

chance to meet, it might be happy for such brave spirits, for 

then the answer to the great riddle would be theirs." 

Wondering what this riddle might be, Aziel bent towards 

t hti to reply, when suddenly round a bend in the path but a 

few paces from them came a body of soldiers and attendants, 

headed by a man clad in a white robe and walking with a 

staff. This man was grey-bearded and keen -eyed, thin in 

face and ascetic in appearance, with a brow of power and a 

bearing of great dignity. At the sight of the pair he halted i 

looking at them in question, and with disapproval. 

** Our search is ended," he said in Hebrew, *' for here is he 
whom we seek, and alone with him a heathen woman, robed 
like a priestess of the Groves." 

** Whom do you seek, Issachar ? " asked Aziel hurriedly, 
for the sudden appearance of the Levite disturbed him. 

** Yourself, Prince. Surely you can guess that your 
absence has been noted. We feared lest harm should have 
come to you, or that you had lost your path, but it seems 
that you have found a guide," and he stared at his com- 
panion sternly. 

*' That guide^ Issachar," answered Aziel, " being none 
other than the lady Elissa, daughter of Sakon, governor of 
this city, and our host, whom it has been my good fortune 
to rescue from a woman-stealer yonder in the grove of 
the goddess Baaltis." 

** And whom it was my bad fortune to try to rescue in the 
said grove, as my broken head bears witness," added Metem, 
who by now had come up, dragging the two mules after 

** In the grove of the goddess Baaltis ! " broke in the 
Levite with a kindling eye, and striking the ground with his 




Staff to emphasise his words. "You, a Prince of Israel, 
alone in the high place of abomination with the priestess 
of a fiend ? Fie upon you, fie ut>on you ! Would you also 
walk in the sin of your forefathers, Aziel, and so soon ? " 

** Peace ! *' said Aziel in a voice of command ; " I was not 
in the grove alone or by my own will, and this is no time or 
place for insults and wrangling." 

" Between me and those who seek after false gods, or the 
women who worship them, there is no peace," replied the old 
priest fiercely. 

Then, followed by all the company, he turned and strode 
towards the gates of the city. 




Two hours had gone by, and the prince Aziel, together with 
his retinue, the officers of the caravan, and many other 
guests, were seated at a great feast made in their honour, by 
Sakon, the governor of the city. This feast was held in the 
large pillared hall of Sakon's house, built beneath the 
northern wall of the temple fortress, and not more than a few 
paces from its narrow entrance, through which in case of 
alarm the inhabitants of the palace could Hy for safety. All 
down this chamber were placed tables, accommodating more 
than two hundred feasters, but the principal guests were 
seated by themselves upon a raised dais at the head of the hall. 
Among them sat Sakon himself, a middle-aged man stout in 
build, and thoughtful of face, his daughter Elissa, some other 
noble ladies, and a score or more of the notables of the city 
and its surrounding territories. 

One of these strangers immediately attracted the attention 
of Aziel, who was seated in the place of honour at the right 
of Sakon, between him and the lady Elissa. This man was 
of large stature, and about forty years of age ; the magni. 
ficence of his apparel and the great gold chain set with rough 
diamonds which hung about his neck showing him to be a 
person of importance. His tawny complexion marked him 
of mixed race. This conclusion his features did not belie, 
for the brow, nose, and cheek-bones were Semitic in outline, 
while the full, prominent eyes, and thick, sensuous lips could 
with equal certainty be attributed to the negroid stock. In 
fact, he was the son of a native African queen, or chieftain 


ness, and a noble Phoenician, and his rank no less than that 
of absolute king and hereditary chief of a vast and undefined 
territory which lay around the trading cities of the white 
men, whereof Zimboe was the head and largest. Aziel 
noticed that this king, who was named Ithobal, seemed angry 
and ill at ease, whether because he was not satisfied with 
the place which had been allotted to him at the table, or for 
other reasons, he could not at the time determine. 

When the meats had been removed, and the goblets were 
filled with wine, men began to talk, till presently Sakon 
called for silence, and rising, addressed Aziel : — 

** Prince," he said, " in the name of this great and free city 
— for free it is, though we acknowledge the king of Tyre as 
our suzerain — I give you welcome within our gates. Here, 
far in the heart of Libya, we have heard of the glorious and 
wise king, your grandfather, and of the mighty Pharaoh of 
Egypt, whose blood runs also within your veins. Prince, 
we are honoured in your coming, and for the asking, what- 
ever this land of gold can boast is yours. Long may you 
live ; may the favour of those gods you worship attend you, 
and in the pursuit of wisdom, of wealth, of war, and of love, 
may the good grain of all be garnered in your bosom, and 
the wind of prosperity winnow out the chaff of them to fall 
beneath your feet. Prince, I have greeted you as it behoves 
me to greet the blood of Solomon and Pharaoh ; now I add 
a word. Now I greet you as a father greets the man who 
has saved his only and beloved daughter from death, or 
shameful bondage. Know you, friends, what this stranger 
did since to-night's moonrise ? My daughter was at worship 
alone yonder without the walls, and a great savage set on 
her, purposing to bear her away captive. Ay, and he would 
have done it had not the prince Aziel here given him battle, 
and, after a fierce fight, slain him." 

** No great deed to kill a single savage," broke in the king 
Ithobal, who had been listening with impatience to Sakon*s 
praises of this high-born stranger. 


" No great deed you say, King," answered Sakon. " Guards, 
bring in the body of the man and set it before us." 

There was a pause, till presently six men staggered up 
the hall bearing between them the corpse of the barbarian, 
which, still covered with the leopard skin mantle, they threw 
down on the edge of the dais. 

"See ! " said one of the bearers, withdrawing the cloak 
from the huge body. Then pointing to the sword which still 
transfixed it, he added, "and learn what strength heaven 
gives to the arms of princes." 

Such of the guests as were near enough rose to look at 
the grizzly sight, then turned to offer their congratulations 
to the conquerer. But there was one of them — the king 
Ithobal — who offered none ; indeed, as his eyes fell upon the 
face of the corpse, they grew alight with rage. 

*' What ails you, King ? Are you jealous of such a blow ? " 
asked Sakon, watching him curiously. 

** Speak no more of that thrust, I pray you," said Aziel, 
" for it was due to the weight of the man rushing on the 
sword, which after he was dead I could not find the power 
to loosen from his breast-bone." 

** Then I will do you that service. Prince," sneered Ithobal, 
and, setting his foot upon the breast of the corpse, with a 
sudden effort of his great frame, he plucked out the sword 
and cast it down upon the table. 

" Now, one might think," said Aziel, flushing with anger, 
** that you. King, who do a courtesy to a man of smaller 
strength, mean a challenge. Doubtless, however, I am 
mistaken, who do not understand the manners of this 

"Think what you will, Prince," answered the chieftain, 
" but learn that he who lies dead before us by your hand 
— as you say — was no slave to be killed at pleasure, but 
a man of rank, none other, indeed, than the son of my 
mother's sister." 

"Is it so ? " replied Aziel; " then surely, King, you ar^ 


well rid of a cousin, however highly born, who made it his 
business to ravish maidens from their homes." 

By way of answer to these words Ithobal sprang from his 
seat again, laying hand upon his sword. But before he could 
speak or draw it, the governor Sakon addressed him in a 
cold and meaning voice : — 

** Of your courtesy. King," he said ** remember that the 
prince here is my guest, as you are, and give us peace. If 
that dead man was your cousin, at least he well deserved to 
die, not at the hand of one of royal blood, but by that of the 
executioner, for he was the worst of thieves — a thief of 
women. Now tell me, King, I pray you, how came your 
cousin here, so far from home, since he was not numbered 
in your retinue ? " 

** I do not know, Sakon," answered Ithobal, " and if I knew 
I would not say. You tell me that my dead kinsman was a 
thief of women, which, in Phoenician eyes, must be a crime 
indeed. So be it ; but thief or no thief, 1 say that there is a 
blood feud between me and the man who slew him, and were 
he great Solomon himself, instead of one of fifty princelets 
of his line, he should pay bitterly for the deed. To-morrow, 
Sakon, I will meet you before I leave for my own land, for 
I have words to speak to you. Till then, farewell " — and 
rising, he strode down the hall, followed by his officers 
and guard. 

The sudden departure of king Ithobal in anger was the 
signal for the breaking up of the feast. 

** Why is that half-bred chief so wrath with me ? " asked 
Aziel in a low voice of Elissa as they followed Sakon to 
another chamber. 

" Because — if you would know the truth — he set his dead 
cousin to kidnap me, and you thwarted him," she answered, 
looking straight before her. 

Aziel made no reply, for at that moment Sakon turned to 
speak with him, and his face was anxiows. 


'' I crave your pardon, Prince/' he said, drawing him aside, 
''that you should have met with such insults at my board. 
Had it been any other man who spoke thus to you, by now 
he had rued his words, but this Ithobal is the terror of our 
city, for if he chooses he can bring a hundred thousand 
savages upon us, shutting us within our walls to starve, and 
cutting us off from the working of the mines whence we win 
gold. Therefore, in this way or in that, he must be 
humoured, as indeed we have humoured him and his father 
for years, though now," he added, his brow darkening, ** he 
demands a price that I am loth to pay,'' and he glanced 
towards his daughter, who stood watching them at a little 
distance, looking most beautiful in her white robes and orna- 
ments of gold. 

" Can you not make war upon him, and break his power ? " 
asked Aziel, with a strange anxiety, guessing that this price 
demanded by Ithobal was none other than Elissa, the woman 
whom he had rescued, and whose wisdom and beauty had 
stirred his heart. 

** It might be done. Prince, but the risk would be great, 
and we are here to work the mines and grow rich in trade 
— not to make war. The policy of Zimboe has always been 
a policy of peace." 

** I have a better and a cheaper plan," said a calm voice at 
his elbow — that of Metem. ** It is this : Slip a bow-string 
over the brute's head as he lies snoring, and pull it tight. 
An eagle in a cage is easy to deal with, but once on the wing 
the matter is different" 

•'There is wisdom in your counsel," said Sakon, in a 
hesitating voice. 

"Wisdom!" broke in Aziel; '*ay, the. wisdom of the 
assassin. What, noble Sakon, would you murder a sleeping 
guest ? " 

** No, Prince, I would not," he answered hastily ; '* also, 
such a deed would bring the Tribes upon us." 

" Then, Sakon, you are more foolish than you used to be,' 


said Metem laughing. ** A man who will not despatch a 
foe, whenever he can catch him, by means fair or foul, is not 
the man to govern a rich city set in the heart of a barbarous 
land, and so I shall tell Hiram, our king, if ever I live to see 
Tyre again. As for you, most high Prince, forgive the 
humblest of your servants if he tells you that the tender- 
ness of your heart and the nobility of your sentiments 
will, I think, bring you to an early and evil end ; " and, 
glancing towards Elissa as though to put a point upon his 
words, Metem smiled sarcastically and withdrew. 

At this moment a messenger, whose long white hair, wild 
eyes and red robe announced him to be a priest of El, by 
which name the people of Zimboe worshipped Baal, entered 
the room, and whispered something into the ear of Sakon 
that seemed to disturb him much. 

" Pardon me. Prince, and you, my guests, if I leave you," 
said the governor, ** but I have evil tidings that call me to 
the temple. The lady Baaltis is seized with the black fever, 
and I must visit her. For an hour, farewell." 

This news caused consternation among the company, and 
in the general confusion that followed its announcement 
Aziel joined Elissa, who had passed on to the balcony of 
the house, and was seated there alone, looking out over the 
moonlit city and the plains beyond. At his approach she 
rose in token of respect, then sat herself down again, motion- 
ing him to do likewise. 

" Give me of your wisdom, lady," he said. ** I thought 
that Baaltis was the goddess whom I heard you worshipping 
yonder in the grove ; how, then, can she be stricken with 
a fever ? " 

** She is the goddess," Elissa answered smiling ; " but 
the lady Baaltis is a woman whom we revere as the 
incarnation of that goddess upon earth, and being but a 1 
woman in her hour she must die." 

" Then, what becomes of the incarnation of the goddess ? " 
Another is chosen by the college of the priests of El, 



and the company of the priestesses of Baaltis. If that lady 
Baaltis who is dead chances to leave a daughter, it is usual 
for the lot to fall upon her ; if not, upon such one of the 
noble maidens as may be chosen." 

" Does the lady Baaltis marry, then ? " 

" Yes, Prince, within a year of her consecration, she must 
choose herself a husband, and he may be whom she will, 
provided only that he is of white blood, and does public 
sacrifice to El and Baaltis. Then after she has named 
him, this husband takes the title of Shadid, and for so long 
as his wife shall live he is the high priest of the god El, and 
clothed with the majesty of the god, as his wife is clothed 
with the majesty of Baaltis. But should she die, another 
wins his place." 

" It is a strange faith," said Aziel, ** which teaches that 
the Lord of Heaven can find a home in mortal breasts. But, 
lady, it is yours, so of it I say no more. Now tell me, if 
you will, what did you mean when you said that this 
barbarian king, Ithobal, set the savage whom I slew to 
kidnap you ? Do you know this, or do you suspect it 
only ? " 

** I suspected it from the first, Prince, and for good reasons ; 
moreover, I read it in the king's face as he looked upon the 
corpse, and when he perceived me among the feasters." 

"And why should he wish to carry you away thus 
brutally, lady, when he is at peace with the great city ? " 

•* Perchance, Prince, after what passed to-night you can 
guess," she answered lowering her eyes. 

*' Yes, lady, I can guess, and though it is shameful that 
such a one should dare to think of you, still, since he is a 
man, I cannot blame him overmuch. But why should he 
press his suit in this rough and secret fashion instead of 
openly as a king might do ? " 

** He may have pressed it openly and been repulsed," she 
replied in a low voice. ** But if he could have carried me 
to some far fortress, how should I flout him th^re^ that is^ 


if I still lived ? There, with no price to pay in gold or lands 
or power, he would have been my master, and I should have 
been his slave till such time as he wearied of me. That is 
the fate from which you have saved me, Prince, or rather 
from death, for I am not one who could bear such shame at 
the hands of a man I hate.** 

'* Lady,'' he said bowing, ** I think that perhaps for the 
first time in my life I am glad to-night that I was born." 

"And I," she answered, **who am but a Phoenician 
maiden, am glad that I should have lived to hear one who 
is as royal in thought and soul as he is in rank speak thus 
to me. Oh ! Prince,*' she added, clasping her hands, " if 
your words are not those of empty courtesy alone, hear me, 
for you are great, a Lord of the Earth whom none refuse, 
and it may be in your power to give me aid. Prince, I am 
in a sore strait, for that danger from which I prayed to be 
delivered this night presses me hard. Prince, it is true that 
Ithobal has been refused my hand, both by myself and by 
my father, and therefore it was that he strove to steal me 
away. But the evil is not done with, for the great nobles 
of the city and the chief priests of El came to my father at 
sunset and prayed him that he would let Ithobal take me, 
seeing that otherwise in his rage he will make war upon 
Zimboe. When a man placed as is my father must choose 
between the safety of thousands and the honour and happi- 
ness of one poor girl, what will his answer be, think you ? ** 

** Now," said Aziel, ** save that no wrong can right a 
wrong, I almost grieve that I cried shame upon the counsel 
of Metem. Sweet lady, be sure of this, that I will give all 
I have, even to my life, to protect you from the vile fate you 
dread — yes, all I have — except my soul." 

" Ah ! " she cried with a sudden flash of her dark eyes, 
** all except your soul. If we women could find the man 
who would risk both life and soul for us, then, were he but 
a slave, we would worship him as never man was worshipped 
since Baaltis mounted her heavenly throne." 


" Were I not a Hebrew you would tempt me, lady,*' Aziel 
answered smiling, '* but being one I may not risk my soul 
even were such a prize within my reach." 

** Nay, Prince," she broke in, ** I did but jest ; forget my 
words, for they were wrung from a heart torn with fears. 
Oh ! did you know the terror of this half-savage Ithobal 
which oppresses me, you would forgive me all — a terror that 
to-night lies upon me with a tenfold weight." 

" Why so, lady ? " 

" Doubtless because it is nearer," Elissa whispered, but 
her beautiful pleading eyes and quivering lips seemed to 
belie her words and say, ** because j'ow are near, and a change 
has come upon me." 

For the second time that day Aziel's glance met hers, and 
for the second time a strange new pang that was more pain 
than joy, and yet half-divine, snatched at his heart-strings, 
for a while numbing his reason and taking from him the 
power of speech. 

*• What was it ? " he wondered vaguely. He had seen 
many lovely faces, and many noble women had shown him 
favour, but why had none of them stirred him thus? Could 
it be that this stranger Gentile maiden was his soul-mate — 
she whom he was destined to love above all upon the earth, 
nay, whom he did already love, and so soon ? 

** Lady," he said, taking a step towards her, ** lady " 

and he paused. 

Elissa bowed her dark head till her gold-bedecked and 
scented hair almost fell upon his feet, but she made no 

Then another voice broke upon the silence, a clear, strident 
voice that said : — 

" Prince, forgive me, if for the second time to-day I disturb 
you ; but the guests have gone ; your chamber is made ready, 
and, not knowing the customs of the women of this country, 
I sought you, little guessing that, at such an hour, I should 
find you alone with one of them." 



Aziel looked up, although there was no need for him to 
do so, for he knew that voice well, to see the tall form of 
the Levite Issachar standing before them, a cold light of 
anger shining in his eyes. 

Elissa saw also, and, with some murmured words of fare- 
well, she turned and went, leaving them together. 




For a moment there was silence, which Aziel broke, saying : — 

*' It seems to me, Issachar, that you are somewhat over 
zealous for my welfare." 

** I think otherwise, Prince," replied the Levite sternly. 
" Did not your grandsire give you into my keeping, and shall 
I not be faithful to my trust, and to a higher duty than any 
which he could lay upon me ? " 

** Your meaning, Issachar ? " 

** It is plain, Prince ; but I will set it out. The great 
king said to me yonder in the hall of his golden palace at 
Jerusalem, • To others, men of war, I have given charge of the 
body of my grandson to keep him safe. To you, Issachar the 
Levite, who have fostered him, I give charge over his soul to 
keep it safe — a higher task, and more difficult. Guard him, 
Issachar, from the temptation of strange doctrines and the 
whisperings of strange gods, but guard him most of all from 
the wiles of strange women who bow the knee to Baal, for 
such are the gate of Gehenna upon earth, and those who 
enter by it shall find their place in Tophet.'" 

'' Truly my grandsire speaks wisely on this matter as 
on all others/' answered Aziel, ** but still I do not understand." 

"Then I will be more clear. Prince. How comes it that 
I find you alone with this beautiful sorceress, this worshipper 
of the she-devil, Baaltis, with whom you should scorn even 
to speak, except such words as courtesy demands ? '' 

*• Is it then forbidden to me," asked Aziel angrily, " to 
talk with the daughter of my host, a lady whom I chanced 


to save from death, of the customs of her country and the 
mysteries of worship ? " 

** The mysteries of worship ! " answered Issachar scorn- 
fully. *' Ay ! the mysteries of the worship of that fair body 
of hers, that ivory chalice filled with foulness — whereof, if a 
man drink, his faith shall be rotted and his soul poisoned. 
The mysteries of what worship was it, Prince, that caused you 
but now to lean towards this woman as though to embrace 
her, with words of love burning in your heart if not between 
your lips ? Ah ! these witches of Baaltis know their trade 
well ; they are full of evil gifts, and of the wisdom given to 
them by the fiend they serve. With touch and sigh and 
look they can stir the blood of youth, having much practice 
in the art, till it seethes within the veins and drowns 
conscience in its flood. 

** Nay, Prince, hear the truth," continued Issachar. " Till 
moonrise you had never seen this woman, and now your 
quick blood is aflame, and you love her. Deny it if you can 
— deny it on your honour and I will believe you, for you are 
no liar." 

Aziel thought a moment and answered : — 

** Issachar, you have no right to question me on this 
matter, yet since you have adjured me by my honour, I will 
be open with you. I, do not know if I love this woman, 
who, as you say, is a stranger to me, but it is true that my 
heart turns towards her like flowers to the sun. Till to-dav 
I had never seen her, yet when my eyes first fell upon her 
face yonder in that accursed grove, it seemed to me that I 
had been born only that I might find her. It seemed to me 
even that for ages I had known her, that for ever she was 
mine and that I was hers. Read me the riddle, Issachar? 
Is this but passion born of youth and the sudden sight of 
a fair woman ? That cannot be, for I have known others 
as fair, and have passed through some such fires ? Tell me, 
Issachar, you who are old and wise and have seen much of 
the hearts of men, what is this wave that overwhelms me ? ** 


" What is it. Prince ? It is witchery ; it is the wile of 
Beelzebub waiting to snatch your soul, and if you hearken 
to it you shall pass through the fire — through the fire to 
Moloch, if not in the flesh, then in the spirit, which is to 
all eternity. Oh ! not in vain do I fear for you, my son, 
and not without reason was I warned in a dream. Listen : 
Last night, as I lay in my tent yonder upon the plain, I 
dreamed that some danger overshadowed you, and in my 
sleep I prayed that your destiny might be revealed to me. 
As I prayed thus, I heard a voice saying, * Issachar, you 
seek to learn the future ; know then that he who is dear to 
you shall be tried in the furnace indeed. Yes, because of 
his great love and pity, he shall forswear his faith, and with 
death and sorrow he shall pay the price of sin.' 

'* Then I was troubled and besought Heaven that you, 
my son, might be saved from this unknown temptation, but 
the voice answered me : — 

•* * Of their own will only can they who were one from 
the beginning be held apart. Through good and ill let 
them work each other's woe or weal. The goal is sure, but 
they must choose the road.' 

•• Now as I wondered what these dark sayings might 
mean, the gloom opened and I saw you, Aziel, standing 
in a grove of trees, while towards you with outstretched 
hands drew a veiled woman who bore upon her brow the 
golden bow of Baaltis. Then fire raged about you, and in 
the fire I beheld many things which I have forgotten, and 
moving through it was the Prince of Death, who slew and 
slew and spared not. So I awoke heavy at heart, know- 
ing that there had fallen on me who love you a shadow of 
doom to come." 

In these latter days any educated man would set aside 
Issachar's wild vision as the vapourings of a mind distraught. 
But Aziel lived in the time of Solomon, when men of his 
nation guided their steps by the light of prophecy, and 
believed that it was the Divine pleasure, by means of 

100 ELISSA, 

dreams and wonders and through the mouths of chosen 
seers, to declare the will of Jehovah upon earth. To this 
faith, indeed, we still hold fast, at least so far as that period 
and people are concerned, seeing that we acknowledge Isaiah, 
David, and their company, to have been inspired from above. 
Of that company Issachar the Levite was one, for to him, 
from his youth up, voices had spoken in the watches of the 
night, and often he had poured his warnings and denuncia- 
tions into the ears of kings and peoples, telling them with 
no uncertain voice of the consequences of sin and idolatry, 
and of punishment to come. This Aziel, who had been his 
ward and pupil, knew well, and therefore he did not mock 
at the priest's dream or set it aside as naught, but bowed 
his head and listened. 

** I am honoured, indeed," he said with humility, ** that 
the destiny of my poor soul and body should be a thing 
of weight to those on high." 

** Of your poor soul, Aziel ? " broke in Issachar. " That 
soul of yours, of which you speak so lightly, is of as 
great value in the eyes of Heaven as that of any cherubim 
within its gates. The angels who fell were the first and 
chiefest of the angels, and though now we are clad with 
mortal shape in punishment of our sins, again redeemed 
and glorified we can become among the mightiest of their 
hosts. Oh ! my son, I beseech you, turn from this woman 
while there yet is time, lest to you her lips should be a cup 
of woe and your soul shall pay the price of them, sharing 
the hell of the worshippers of Ashtoreth." 

** It may be so," said Aziel ; ** but, Issachar, what said the 
voice ? That this, the woman of your dream and I were 
one from the beginning? Issachar, you believe that the 
lady Elissa is she of whom the voice spoke in your sleep 
and you bid me turn from her because she will bring me to 
sin and punishment. In truth, if I can, I will ol)ey you, 
since rather than forswear my faith, as your dream foretold, 
I would die a hundred deaths. Nor do I believe that for 


any bribe of woman's love I shall forswear it in act or 
thought. Yet if such things come about it is fate that 
drives me on, not my will — and what man can flee his fate ? 
But even though this lady be she whom I am doomed to 
love, you say that because she is heathen I must reject her. 
Shame upon the thought, for if she is heathen it is through 
ignorance, and it may be mine to change her heart. Because 
I stand in danger shall I suffer her who, as you tell me, was 
one with me from the beginning, to be lost in that hell of 
Baal of which you speak ? Nay, your dream is false. I 
will not renounce my faith, but rather will win her to share 
it, and together we shall triumph, and that I swear to you, 

"Truly the evil one has many wiles," answered the 
Levite, "and I did ill to tell you of my dream, seeing that 
it can be twisted to serve the purpose of your madnesB. 
Have your will, Aziel, and reap the fruit of it, but of this 
I warn you — that while I can find a way to thwart it, never, 
Prince, shall you take that witch to your bosom to be the 
ruin of your life and soul." 

•• Then, Issachar, on this matter there may be war between 

*• Ay ! there is war," said the Levite, and left him. 

The sun was already high in the heavens when Aziel 
awoke from the deep and dreamless sleep which followed 
on the excitements and exhaustion of the previous day. 
After his servants had waited upon him and robed him, 
bringing him milk and fruit to eat, he dismissed them, and 
sat himself down by the casement of his chamber to think 
a while. 

Below him lay the city of flat-roofed houses enclosed with 
a double wall, without the ring of which were thousands of 
straw huts, shaped like bee-hives, wherein dwelt natives of 
the country, slaves or servants of the occupying Phoenician 
race. To Aziel's right, and not more than a hundred paces 



from the governor's house in which he was, rose the round 
and mighty battlements of the temple, where the followers of 
£1 and Baaltis worshipped, and the gold refiners carried on 
their business. At intervals on its flat-topped walls stood 
towers of observation, alternating with pointed monoliths 
of granite and soapstone columns supporting vultures, 
rudely carved emblems of Baaltis. Between these towers 
armed soldiers walked continually, watching the city below 
and the plain beyond, for though the mission of the Phoeni- 
cians here was one of peaceful gain it was evident that they 
considered it necessary to be always prepared for war. On 
the hillside above the great temple towered another fortress 
of stone — a citadel deemed to be impregnable even should 
the temple fall into the hands of an enemy — while on the 
crest of the precipitous slope, stretching as far to right and 
left as the eye could reach, were many smaller detached 

The scene that Aziel saw from his window was a busy 
one, for beneath him a market was being held in an open 
square in the city. Here, sheltered from the sun by grass- 
thatched booths, the Phcenician merchants who had been 
his companions in their long and perilous journey from 
the coast were already in treaty with numerous customers, 
hoping, not in vain, to recoup themselves amply for the 
toils and dangers which they had survived. Beneath these 
booths were spread their goods ; silks from Cos, bronze 
weapons and copper rods, or ingots from the rich mines 
of Cyprus, linens and muslins from Egypt ; beads, idols, 
carven bowls, knives, glass ware, pottery in all shapes, and 
charms made of glazed faience or Egyptian stone; bales 
of the famous purple cloth of Tyre ; surgical instruments, 
jewellery, and objects of toilet ; scents, pots of rouge, and 
other unguents for the use of ladies in little alabaster and 
earthenware vases ; bags of refined salt, and a thousand 
other articles of commerce produced or stored in the work- 
■ shops of Phcenicia. These the chapmen bartered for raw 


gold by weight, tusks of ivory, ostrich feathers, and girls 
of approved beauty, slaves taken in war, or in some instances 
maidens whom their unnatural parents or relatives did not 
scruple to sell into bondage. 

In another portion of the square, provisions and stock, 
alive and dead, were being offered for sale, for the most part 
by natives of the country. Here were piles of vegetables 
and fruits grown in the gardens, sacks of various sorts of 
grain^ bundles of green forage from the irrigated lands with- 
out the walls, calabashes full of curdled milk, thick native 
beer and trusses of reeds for thatching. Here again were 
oxen, mules and asses, or great bucks such as we now know 
as eland or kudoo, carried in on rough litters of boughs 
to be disposed of by parties of savage huntsmen who had 
shot them with arrows or trapped them in pitfalls. - Every 
Eastern tribe and nation seemed to be represented in the 
motley crowd. Yonder stalked savages, naked except for 
their girdles, and armed with huge spears, who gazed with 
bewilderment on the wonders of this mart of the white man ; 
there moved grave, long-bearded Arab merchants or Phcjeni- 
cians in their pointed caps, or bare-headed white-robed 
Egyptians, or half-bred mercenaries clad in mail. Their 
variety was without end, while from them came a very babel 
of different tongues as they cried their wares, bargained and 

Aziel gazed at this novel sight with interest, till, as he 
was beginning to weary of it, the crowd parted to right and 
left, leaving a clear lane across the market-place to the 
narrow gate of the temple. Along this lane advanced a 
procession of the priests of El clad in red robes, with tall red 
caps upon their heads, beneath which their straight hair hung 
down to their shoulders. In their hands were gilded rods, and 
round their necks hung golden chains, to which were attached 
emblems of the god they worshipped. They walked two-and- 
two to the number of fifty, chanting a melancholy dirge, one 
hand of each priest resting upon his fellow's shoulder, and 


as they passed, with the exception of certain Jews, all the 
spectators uncovered, while some of the more pious of 
them even fell upon their knees. 

After the priests came a second procession, that of the 
priestesses of Baaltis. These women, who numbered at 
least a hundred, were clad in white, and wore upon their 
heads a gauze-like veil that fell to the knees, and was held 
in place by a golden fillet surmounted with the symbol of 
a crescent moon. Instead of the golden rods, however, 
each of them held in her left hand a growing stalk of maize, 
from the sheathed cob of which hung the bright tassel of 
its bloom. On her right wrist, moreover, a milk-white dove 
was fastened by a wire, both corn and dove being tokens 
of that fertility which, under various guises, was the real 
object of the worship of these people. The sight of these 
white-veiled women about whose crescent-decked brows the 
doves fluttered, wildly striving to be free, was very strange 
and beautiful as they advanced also singing a low and 
melancholy chant. Aziel searched their faces with his eyes 
while they passed slowly towards him, and presently his heart 
bounded, for there among them, clasping the dove she bore 
to her breast, as though to still its frightened strugglings, 
was the Lady Klissa. He noticed, too, that as she went 
beneath the palace walls, she glanced at the window-place 
of his chamber, but without seeing him for he was seated 
in the shadow. 

Presently the long line of priestesses, followed by hun- 
dreds of worshippers, had vanished through the tortuous 
and narrow entrance of the temple, and Aziel leaned back 
to think. 

There, among the principal votaries of a goddess, the 
wickedness of whose worship was a scandal and a by-word 
even in the ancient world, walked the woman to whom he 
felt so strangely drawn and with whom, if there were any 
truth in the visions of Issachar and the mysterious warnings 
of his own soul, his fate was intertwined. As he thought 

Til V ' ^>''^ 

Tell me, Metem, . . . what mummery is ihis ? " 


of it a sudden revulsion filled his heart. She was wise and 
beautiful, and she seemed innocent, but Issachar was right ; 
this girl was the minister of an abominable creed ; nay, for 
aught he knew, she was herself defiled with its abominations, 
and her wisdom but an evil gift from the evil powers she 
served. Could he, a prince of the royal blood of the House 
of Israel and of the ancient Pharaohs of Khem, desire to 
have anything to do with such an one, he a child of the 
Chosen People, a worshipper of the true and only God ? 
Yesterday she had thrown a spell upon him, a spell of black 
magic, or the spell of her imperial beauty, which, it mattered 
not, but to-day he was the lord of his own mind, and would 
shake himself free of it and her. 

In the market-place below, the Levite Issachar also had 
watched the passing of the priests and priestesses of £1 and 

"Tell me, Metem," he asked of the Ph(Enician who 
stood beside him, his head respectfully uncovered, *' what 
mummery is this ? '* 

" It is no mummery, worthy Issachar, but a ceremony of 
public sacrifice, which is to be offered in the temple yonder, 
for the recovery from her sickness of the Lady Baaltis, the 

"Where then is the offering. I see none, unless it be 
those doves that are tied to the wrists of the women ? " 

" Nay, Issachar," answered Metem smiling darkly, ** the 
gods ask nobler blood than that of doves. The offering is 
within, and it is the first-born child of a priestess of Baaltis." 

•* O Lord of Heaven !" said Issachar lifting up his eyes, 
**how long will you suffer that this murderous and accursed 
race should defile the face of earth ? " 

'• Softly, friend," broke in Metem, '* I have read your 
Scriptures, and is it not set out in them that your great 
forefather was commanded to offer up his first-born in such 
a sacrifice ? " 


"Blaspheme not," answered the Jew. ** He was com* 
manded indeed, that his heart might be proved, but his hand 
was stayed. He Whom I worship delights not in the blood 
of children.'* 

Here Issachar broke off, suddenly recognising the lady 
Elissa among the white-robed priestesses. Watching her, 
he noted her glance at the window of Aziel's chamber, and 
saw what she could not see, that the prince was seated there. 
" This daughter of Satan spreads her nets," he muttered 
between his teeth. Then a thought struck him, and he 
added aloud, *' Say, Metem, is it permitted to strangers to 
witness the rites in yonder temple ? " 

** Surely," answered the Phoenician ; " that is, if they 
guard their tongues, and do nothing to offend." 

" Then I desire to see them, Metem, and so doubtless 
does the prince Aziel. Therefore, if it is your will, do me 
the service to enter his chamber in the palace where he is 
sitting, and bid him to a great ceremony that goes forward 
in the temple. And, Metem, if he asks what that ceremony 
is, I charge you, say only that a dove is to be sacrificed. 

" I will wait for you at the gate of the temple, but do not 
tell him that I sent you on this errand. Metem, you love 
gain ; remember that if you humour me in this and other 
matters which may arise, doing my bidding faithfully, 1 
have the treasury of Jerusalem to draw upon." 

" No ill paymaster," replied Metem cheerfully. *' Certainly 
I will obey you in all things, holy Issachar, as the king 
commanded me yonder in Judea." 

** Now," he reflected to himself, as he went upon his 
message, ** I see how the bird flies. The prince Aziel is in 
love with the lady Elissa, or far upon the road to it, as at 
his age it is right and proper that he should be, after a 
twelve months' journey by sea and land with never a pretty 
face to sigh for. The holy Issachar, on the other hand, 
is minded that his charge shall have naught to do with a 
priestess of Baaltis, as, his age and calling considered, is 



also right and proper. Then there is that black savage 
Ithobal, who wishes to win the girl, and the girl herself, 
who after the fashion of her sex, will probably play them all 
off one against the other. Well, so much the better for me, 
since I shall be a richer man even than I am before this 
affair is done with. I have two hands, and gold is gold 
whoever be the giver/' and smiling craftily to himself 
Metem passed into the palace. 




Suddenly Aziel, looking up from his reverie, saw the 
Phcfinician bowing before him, cap in hand. 

** May the Prince live for ever,*' he said, ** yet if he suffer 
melancholy to overcome him thus, his life, however long, 
will be but sad/' 

" I was only thinking, Metem," answered Aziel with a 

** Of the lady Elissa, whom you rescued, Prince ? Ah ! 
I guessed as much. She is beautiful, is she not — I have 
never seen the equal of those dreamy eyes and that mysterious 
smile — and learned also, though myself, in a woman I prefer 
the beauty without the learning. It is a pity now that she 
should chance to be a priestess of our worship, for that will 
not please the holy Issachar whom, I fear. Prince, you find 
a stern guide for the feet of youth." 

" Your business, merchant ? " broke in Aziel. 

" I crave your pardon, Prince," answered the Phoenician, 
spreading out his hands in deprecation. ** I struck a good 
bargain for my wares this morning, and drank wine to seal 
it, therefore, let me be forgiven if I have spoken too freely in 
your presence, Prince. This is my business : Yonder in the 
temple they celebrate a service which it is lawful for strangers 
to witness, and as the opportunity is rare, I thought that, 
having heard something of our mysteries in the grove last 
night, you might wish to see the office. If this be so, I am 
come to guide you." 

** Aziel's first impulse was to refuse to go ; indeed, the 


words of dismissal were on his lips when another purpose 
entered his mind. For this once he would look upon these 
abominations and learn what part Elissa played in them, and 
thus be cured for ever of the longings that had seized him. 

** What is the ceremony ? " he asked. 

" A sacrifice for the recovery of the lady Baaltis who is 
sick, Prince." 

** And what is the sacrifice ? " asked Aziel. 

•* A dove, as I am told," was the indifferent answer. 

" I will come with you, Metem." 

** So be it, Prince. Your retinue awaits you at the gate." 

At the main entrance to the palace Aziel found his guard 
and other servants gathered there to escort him. With them 
was Issachar, whom he greeted, asking him if he knew the 
errand upon which they were bent. 

" I do, Prince; it is to witness the abomination of a sacrifice 
of these heathens." 

"Will you then accompany me there, Issachar ? " 

** Where my lord goes I go," answered the Levite gravely. 
** Moreover, Prince, if you have your reasons for wishing to 
sec this devil-worship, I may have mine." 

Then they set out, Metem guiding them. At the north 
gate of the temple, which was not more than a yard in width, 
the Phoenician spoke to the guards on duty, who drew back 
to let them pass. In single file, for the passages were too 
narrow to allow of any other means of progression, they 
threaded the tortuous and mazy paths of the great building, 
passing between huge walls built of granite blocks laid with- 
out mortar, till at length they reached a large open space. 
Here the ceremony had already begun. Almost in the centre 
of this space, which was paved with blocks of granite, stood 
two conical towers, the larger of which measured thirty feet 
in height and the smaller about half as much. These towers, 
also built of blocks of stone, were, as Metem informed them, 
sacred to and emblematical of the gods El and Baaltis. In 
front of them was a platform surmounted by a %lot\^ aXVax, 


and between them, built in a pit in the ground, burned a 
great furnace of wood. All the centre of the enclosure was 
occupied by the marshalled ranks of the priests and priestesses. 
Without this sacred ring stood the closely packed masses of 
spectators, amongst whom Aziel and his following were given 
place, though some of the more pious worshippers murmured 
audibly at the admission of these Jews. 

When they entered, the companies of priests and priestesses 
were finishing a prayer, the sentences of which they chanted 
alternately with strange effect. In part it was formal, and 
in part an improvised supplication to the protecting gods 
to restore health to that woman or high-priestess who 
was known as the lady Baaltis. The prayer ended, a 
beautiful bold-faced girl advanced to an open space in 
front of the altar, and with a sudden movement threw 
off her white robe, revealing herself to the spectators in a 
many-coloured garment of gauze, through which her fair 
flesh gleamed. 

The black hair of this woman was adorned with a coronet 
of scarlet flowers and hung loose about her ; her feet and 
arms were naked, and in each hand she held a knife of bronze. 
Very slowly she began to dance, her painted lips parted as 
though to speak, and her eyes, brightened with pigments, 
turned up to heaven. By degrees her movements grew 
more rapid, till at length, as she whirled round, her long 
locks streamed out straight upon the air and the crown of 
flowers looked like a scarlet ring. Suddenly the bronze knife 
in her right hand flashed, and a spot of red appeared over 
her left breast ; then the knife in the left hand flashed, and 
another spot appeared over the right breast At each stroke 
the multitude cried, **^///" as with one voice, and then 
were silent. 

Now the maddened dancer, ceasing her whirlings, leapt 
high into the air, clashing the knives above her head and 
cr>'ing, *• Hear me, hear me, Baaltis ! " 

in she leapt, and this time the answer that came from 


her lips was spoken in another voice, which said, '' I am 
present. What seek you ? " 

A third time the priestess leapt, replying in her own voice, 
" Health for thy servant who is sick ". Then came the 
answer in the second voice — " I hear you, but I see no 
sacrifice ". 

" What sacrifice would*st thou, O Queen ? A dove } " 

*' Nay." 

"What then. Queen?" 

"One only, the first-born child of a woman." 

As this command, which they supposed to be divine and 
from above, issued out of the lips of the gashed and bleeding 
Pythoness, the multitude that hitherto had listened in perfect 
silence, shouted aloud, while the girl herself, utterly exhausted, 
fell to the earth swooning. 

Now the high priest of El, who was named the Shadid, 
none other indeed than the husband of her who lay sick, 
sprang upon the platform and cried : — 

"The goddess has spoken by the mouth of her oracle. 
She who is the mother of all demands one life out of the 
many she has given, that the Lady Baaltis, who is her 
priestess upon earth, may be recovered of her sickness. 
Say, who will lay down a life for the honour of the goddess, 
and that her regent in this land may be saved alive ? " 

l^OMif — for all this scene had been carefully prepared — a 
woman stepped forward, wearing the robe of a priestess, 
who bore in her arms a drugged and sleeping child. 

" I, father," she cried in a shrill, hard voice, though her 
lips trembled as she spoke. " Let the goddess take this 
child, the first-fruit of my body, that our mother the Lady 
Baaltis may be cured of her sickness, and that I, her 
daughter, may be blessed by the goddess, and through me, 
all we who worship her." And she held out the little victim 
towards him. 

The Shadid stretched out his arms to take it, but he never 
did take it, for at that moment appeared upon the platform 

1 1 2 ELISSA. 

the tall and bearded figure of Issachar clad in his white 

" Hold ! " he cried in a loud, clear voice, "and touch not 
the innocent child. Spawn of Satan, would you do murder 
to appease the devils whom you worship ? Well shall they 
repay you, people of Zimboe. Oh ! mine eyes are open and 
I see," he went on, shaking his thin arms above his head in 
a prophetic frenzy. ** I see the sword of the true God, and 
it Barnes above this city of idolaters and abominations. I 
«ee this place of sacrifice, and I tell you that before the moon 
is young again it shall run red with the blood of you, idol 
worshippers, and of you, women of the groves. The 
heathen is at your gates, ye followers of demons, and my 
God sends them as He sends the locusts or the north wind 
to devour you like grass, to sweep you away like the dust of 
the desert. Cry then upon El and Baaltis, and let £1 and 
Baaltis save you if they can. Doom is upon you; Azrael, 
angel of death, writes his name upon your foreheads, every 
one of you, giving your city to the owls, your bodies to the 
jackals, and your souls to Satan " 

Thus far the priests and the spectators had listened to 
Issachar's denunciations in bewildered amazement not un- 
mixed with fear. Now with a roar of wrath they awoke, 
and suddenly he was dragged from the platform by a score 
of hands and struck down with many blows. Indeed, he 
would then and there have been torn to pieces had not a 
guard of soldiers, knowing that he was Sakon*s guest and in 
the train of the prince Aziel, snatched him from the mad- 
dened multitude, and borne him swiftly to a place of safety 
without the enclosure. 

While the tumult was at its height, a Phoenician, who had 
arrived in the temple breathless with haste, might have been 
seen to pluck Metem by the sleeve. 

" What is it ? " Metem asked of the man, who was his 

" This : the lady Baaltis is dead. I watched as you 





R L 

TiiE y:: •• yosk 




bade me, and, as she had promised to do, in token oftht end, 
her woman waved a napkin from the casement of that 
tower where she lies." 

** Do any know of this ? " 

" None." 

** Then say no word of it," and Metem hurried off in search 
of Aziel. 

Presently he found him seeking for Issachar in company 
with his guards. 

" Have no fear, Prince," Metem said, in answer to his 
eager questions, " he is safe enough, for the soldiers have 
borne the fool away. Pardon me that I should speak thus 
of a holy man, but he has put all our lives in danger." 

"I do not pardon you," answered Aziel hotly, ** and I 
honour Issachar for his act and words. Let us begone from 
this accursed place whither you entrapped me." 

Before Metem could reply a voice cried, "Close the doors 
of the sanctuary, so that none can pass in or go out, and let 
the sacrifice be offered." 

•* Listen, Prince," said Metem, ** you must stay here till 
the ceremony is done." 

"Then I tell you, Phoenician," answered Aziel, "that 
rather than suffer that luckless child to be butchered before 
my eyes I will cut my way to it with my guards, and rescue 
it alive." 

** To leave yourself dead in place of it," answered Metem 
sarcastically ; " but, see, a woman desires to speak with you," 
and he pointed to a girl in the robe of a priestess, whose face 
was hidden with a veil, and who, in the tumult and confusion, 
had worked her way to Aziel, 

" Prince," whispered the veiled form, " I am Elissa. For 
your life's sake keep still and silent, or you will be stabbed, 
for your words have been overheard, and the priests are mad 
at the insult that has been put upon them." 

** Away with you, woman," answered Aziel ; ** what have I 
to do with a girl of the groves and a murderess of chMtttv"^." 

1 14 ELISSA. 

She winced at his bitter words, but said quietly : — 

" Then on your own head be your blood. Prince, which I 
have risked much to keep unshed. But before you die, learn 
that I knew nothing of this foul sacrifice, and that gladly 
would I give my own life to save that of yonder child." 

** Save it, and I will believe you," answered the prince^ 
turning from her. 

Elissa slipped away, for she saw that the priestesses^ her 
companions, were reforming their ranks, and that she must 
not tarry. When she had gone a few yards, a hand caught 
her by the sleeve, and the voice of Metem, who had over- 
heard something of this talk, whispered in her ear : — 

** Daughter of Sakon, what will you give me if I show you 
a way to save the life of the child, and with it that of the 
prince, and at the same time to make him think well of you 
again ? " 

** All my jewels and ornaments of gold, and they arc 
many," she answered eagerly. 

**Good; it is a bargain. Now listen: The lady Baaltis 
is dead ; she died a few minutes since, and none here know 
it save myself and one other, my servant, nor can any learn 
it, for the gates are shut. Do you be, therefore, suddenly 
inspired — of the gods — and say so, for then the sacrifice 
must cease, seeing that she for whom it was to be offered 
is dead. Do you understand ? " 

** I understand," she answered, '* and though the blasphemy 
bring on me the vengeance of Baaltis, yet it shall be dared. 
Fear not, your pay is good," and she pressed forward to her 
place, keeping the veil wrapped about her head till she reached 
it unobserved, for in the general confusion none had noticed 
her movements. 

When the noise of shouting and angry voices had at length 
died away, and the spectators were driven back outside the 
sacred circle, the priest upon the platform cried : — 

** Now that the Jew blasphemer has gone, let the sacrifice 
be offered, as is decreed." 


" Yea, let the sacrifice be offered," answered the multitude, 
and once more the woman with the sleeping child stepped 
forward. But before the priest could take it another figure 
approached him, that of Elissa, with arms outstretched and 
eyes upturned. 

" Hold, O priest ! " she said, ** for the goddess, breathing 
on my brow, inspires me, and I have a message from the 

** Draw near, daughter, and speak it in the ears of men," 
the priest answered wondering, for he found it hard to believe 
in such inspiration, and indeed would have denied her a 
hearing had he dared. 

So Elissa climbed the platform, and standing upon it still 
with outstretched hands and upturned face, she said in a 
clear voice : — 

" The goddess refuses the sacrifice, since she has taken 
to herself her for whom it was to have been offered — the 
Lady Baaltis is dead." 

At this tidings a groan went up from the people, partly of 
grief for the loss of a spiritual dignitary who was popular, and 
partly of disappointment because now the sacrifice could not 
be offered. For the Phoenicians loved these horrible spec- 
tacles, which were not, however, commonly celebrated by 
daylight and in the presence of the people. 

*• It is a lie," cried a voice, ** but now the Lady Baaltis 
was living." 

" Let the gates be opened, and send to see whether or no 
I lie," said Elissa, quietly. 

Then for a while there was silence while a priest went 
upon the errand. At length he was seen returning. Push- 
ing his way through the crowd, he mounted the platform, 
and said : — 

" The daughter of Sakon speaks truth ; alas ! the lady 
Baaltis is dead." 

Elissa sighed in relief, for had her tidings proved false she 
could scarcely have hoped to escape the fury of lV\t ctovj^. 



** Ay ! '* she cried, " she is dead, as I told you, and because 
of your sin, who would have offered human sacrifice in public, 
against the custom of our faith and city and without the 
command of the goddess." 

Then in sullen silence the priests and priestesses reformed 
their ranks, and departed from the sanctuary, whence they 
were followed by the spectators, the most of them in no good 
mood, for they had been baulked of the promised spectacle. 




When Elissa reached her chamber after the break up of the 
procession, she threw herself upon her couch, and burst into 
a passion of tears. Well might she weep, for she had been 
false to her oath as a priestess, uttering as a message from 
the goddess that which she had learnt from the lips of man. 
More, she could not rid herself of the remembrance of the 
scorn and loathing with which the Prince Aziel had looked 
upon her, or of the bitter insult of his words when he called 
her, '^ a girl of the groves, and a murderess of children ". 

It chanced that, so far as Elissa was concerned, these 
charges were utterly untrue. None could throw a slur upon 
her, and as for these rare human sacrifices, she loathed the 
very name of them, nor, unless forced to it, would she have 
been present had she guessed that any such offering was 

Like most of the ancient religions, that of the Phoenicians 
had two sides to it — a spiritual and a material side. The 
spiritual side was a worship of the far-off unknown divinity, 
symbolised by the sun, moon and planets, and visible only in 
their majestic movements, and in the forces of nature. To 
this Elissa clung, knowing no truer god, and from those forces 
she strove to wring their secret, for her heart was deep. 
Lonely invocations to the goddess beneath the light of the 
silent moon appealed to her, for from them she seemed to 
draw strength and comfort, but the outward ceremonies of 
her fieuth, or the more secret and darker of them, of which in 
practice she knew little, were already an abomination in her 

1 1 8 ELISSA. 

eyes. And now what if the Jew prophet spoke truly ? What 
if this creed of hers were a lie, root and branch, and there 
did live in the heavens above a Lord and Father who heard 
and answered the prayers of men, and who did not seek of 
them the blood of the children He had given ? 

A great doubt took hold of Elissa and shook her being, 
and with the doubt came hope. How was it — if her faith 
were true — that when she took the name of the goddess in 
vain, nothing had befallen her ? She desired to learn more 
of this matter, but who was to teach her ? The Lrevite 
turned from her with loathing as from a thing unclean, and 
there remained, therefore, but the prince Aziel, who had put 
her from him with those bitter words of scorn. Ah ! why 
did they pain her so, piercing her heart as with a spear ? 
Was it because — because — he had grown dear to her ? Yes, 
that was the truth. She had learned it even as he cursed 
her ; all her quick southern blood was alight with a new fire, 
the like of which she had never known before. And not her 
blood only, it was her spirit — her spirit that yearned to his. 
Had it not leapt within her at the first sight of him as to 
one most dear, one long-lost and found again ? She loved 
him, and he loathed her, and oh ! her lot was hard. 

As Elissa lay brooding thus in her pain, the door opened 
and Sakon, her father, hurried into the chamber. 

** What is it that has chanced yonder ? " he asked, for he 
had not been present in the sanctuary, **and, daughter, why 
do you weep ? " 

** I weep, father, because your guest, the prince Aziel, 
has called me * a girl of the groves, and a murderess of 
children,' " she replied. 

** Then, by my head, prince that he is, he shall answer 
for it to me," said Sakon grasping at his sword-hilt. 

** Nay, father, since to him I must have seemed to deserve 
the words. Listen." And she told him all that had passed, 
hiding nothing. 

'* Now it seems that trouble is heaped upon trouble,'* said 


the Phoenician when she had finished, *'and they were mad 
who suffered the prince and that fierce Issachar to be present 
at the sacrifice. Daughter, I tell you this : though I am a 
worshipper of El and Baaltis, as my fathers were before me, 
I know that Jehovah of the Jews is a great and powerful 
Lord, and that His prophets do not prophesy falsely, for I 
have seen it in my youth, yonder in the coasts of Sidon. 
What did Issachar say ? That before the moon was young 
again, this temple should run red with blood ? Well, so it 
may happen, for Ithobal threatens war against us, and for 
your sake, my daughter.'* 

" How for my sake, father ? " she asked heavily, as one 
who knew what the answer would be. 

** You know well, girl. Ever since you danced before him 
at the great welcoming feast I made in his honour a month 
ago the man is besotted of you ; moreover, he is mad with 
jealousy of this new-comer, the prince Aziel. He has 
demanded public audience of me this afternoon, and I have 
it privately that then he will formally ask you in marriage 
before the people, and if he is refused will declare war upon 
the city, with which he has many an ancient quarrel. Yes, 
yes, king Ithobal is that sword of God which the Jew said 
he saw hanging over us, and should it fall it will be because 
of you, Elissa." 

** The Jew did not say that, father ; he said it would be 
because of the sins of the people and their idolatries." 

** What does it matter what he said ? " broke in Sakon 
hastily. '* How shall I answer Ithobal ? " 

"Tell him," she replied with a strange smile, ** that he 
does wisely to be jealous of the prince Aziel." 

'* What ! Of the stranger who this very day reviled you 
in words of such shame, and so soon ? " asked her father 

Elissa did not speak in answer ; she only looked straight 
before her, and nodded her head. 

" Had ever man such a daughter ? " Sakon weul ow vcv 

1 20 ELISSA. 

petulant dismay. ** Truly it is a wise saying which tells 
that women love those best who beat them, be it with the 
tongue or with the fist. Not but what I would gladly see 
you wedded to a prince of Israel and of Egypt rather than 
to this half-bred barbarian, but the legions of Solomon and 
of Pharaoh are far away, whereas Ithobal has a hundred 
thousand spears almost at our gate." 

** There is no need to speak of such things, father," she 
said, turning aside, *' since, even were I willing, the prince 
would have nought to do with me, who am a priestess of 
Baaltis. ' 

** The matter of religion might be overcome," suggested 
Sakon ; ** but, no, for many reasons it is impossible. Well, 
this being so, daughter, I may answer Ithobal that you will 
wed him." 

** I ! " she said ; ** I wed that black-hearted savage ? My 
father, you may answer what you will, but of this be sure, 
that I will go to my grave before I pass as wife to the board 
of Ithobal." 

" Oh ! my daughter," pleaded Sakon, ** think before you 
say it. As his wife at least you, who are not of royal blood, 
will be a queen, and the mother of kings. But if you refuse, 
then either I must force you, which is hateful to me, or there 
will be such a war as the city has not known for generations, 
for Ithobal and his tribes have many grievances against us. 
By the gift of yourself, for a while,, at any rate, you can, as 
it chances, make peace between us, but if that is withheld, 
then blood will run in rivers, and perhaps this city, with all 
who live in it, will be destroyed, or at the least its trade must 
be ruined and its wealth stolen away." 

** If it is decreed that all these things are to be, they will 
be," answered Elissa calmly, ** seeing that this war has 
threatened us for many years, and that a woman must think 
of herself first, and of the fate of cities afterwards. Of my 
own free will I shall never take Ithobal for husband. Father, 
I have said." 


" Of the fate of cities, yes ; but how of my fate, and that 
of those we love ? Are we all to be ruined, and perhaps 
slaughtered, to satisfy your whim, girl ? " 

" I did not say so, father. I said that of my own free will 
I would not wed Ithobal. If you choose to give me to him 
you have the right to do it, but know then that you give me 
to my death. Perhaps it is best that it should be thus." 

Sakon knew his daughter well, and it did not need that 
he should glance at her set face to learn that she meant 
her words. Also he loved her, his only child, more dearly 
than anything on earth. 

** In truth my strait is hard, and I know not which way to 
turn/* he said, covering his face with his hand. 

" Father,** she replied, laying her fingers lightly on his 
shoulder, " what need is there to answer him at once ? 
Take a month, or if he will not give it, a week. Much may 
happen in that time." 

** The counsel is wise," he said, catching at this straw. 
** Daughter, be in the great hall of audience with your 
attendants three hours after noon, for then we must receive 
Ithobal boldly in all pomp, and deal with him as best we 
may. And now I go to ask peace for the Levite from the 
priests of El, and to discover whom the sacred colleges desire 
to nominate as the new Baaltis. Doubtless it will be Mesa, 
the daughter of her who is dead, though many are against 
her. Oh! if there were no priests and no women, this city 
would be easier to govern," and with an impatient gesture 
Sakon left the room. 

It was three o'clock in the afternoon, and the great hall of 
audience in Zimboe was crowded with a brilliant assemblage. 
There sat Sakon, the governor, and with him his council of 
the notables of the city ; there were prince Aziel and among 
his retinue, Issachar the prophet, fierce-eyed as ever, though 
hardly recovered from the rough handling he had experienced 
in the temple. There were representatives of the college 

1 21 ELISSA. 

of the priests of El. There were many ladies, wives and 
daughters of dignitaries and wealthy citizens, and with 
them a great crowd of spectators of all classes gathered in 
the lower part of the hall, for a rumour had spread about 
that the farewell audience given by Sakon to King Ithobal 
was likely to be stormy. 

When all were gathered, a herald announced that Ithobal, 
King of the Tribes, waited to take his leave of Sakon, 
Governor of Zimboe, before departing to his own land on 
the morrow. 

** Let him be admitted," said Sakon, who looked weary 
and ill at ease. Then as the herald bowed and left, he 
turned and whispered something into the ear of his daughter 
Elissa, who stood behind his chair, her face immovable as 
that of an Egyptian Sphinx, but magnificently apparelled in 
gleaming robes and jewelled ornaments — which Metem, look- 
ing on them, reflected with satisfaction were now his property. 

Presently, preceded by a burst of savage music, Ithobal 
entered. He was gorgeously arrayed in a purple Tyrian 
robe decked with golden chains, while on the brow, in token 
of his royalty, he wore a golden circlet in which was set a 
single blood-red stone. Before him walked a sword-bearer 
carrying a sword of ceremony, a magnificent ivory-handled 
weapon encrusted with rough gems and inlaid with gold, 
while behind him, clad in barbaric pomp, marched a number 
of counsellors and attendants, huge and half-savage men 
who glared wonderingly at the splendour of the place and 
its occupants. As the king came, Sakon rose from his chair 
of state and, advancing down the hall, took him by the hand 
and led him to a similar chair placed at a little distance. 

Ithobal seated himself and looked around the hall. Pres- 
ently his glance fell upon Aziel, and he scowled. 

** Is it common, Sakon," he asked, " that the seat of a 
prince should be set higher than that of a crowned king ? " 
And he pointed to the chair of Aziel, which was placed a 
little above his own upon the dais. 


The governor was about toanswer when Aziel said coldly : — 
** Where it was pointed out to me that I should sit, there 
I sat, though, for aught I care, the king Ithobal may take 
my place. The grandson of Pharaoh and of Solomon does 
not need to dispute for precedence with the savage ruler of 
savage tribes." 

Ithobal sprang to his feet and cried, grasping his sword : — 

** By my father's soul, you shall answer for this, Princelet." 

"You should have sworn by your mother's soul, King 

Ithobal,'^~replied Aziel quietly, ** for doubtless it is the black 

blood in your veins that causes you to forget your courtesy. 

For the rest, I answer to no man save to my king." 

** Yet there is one other who will make you answer," 
replied Ithobal, in a voice thick with rage, ** and here he is," 
and he drew his sword and flashed it before the prince's eyes. 
** Or if you fear to face him, then the wands of my slaves 
shall cause you to cry me pardon." 

** If you desire to challenge me to combat, king Ithobal, 
for this purpose only I am your servant, though the fashion 
of your challenging is not that of any nation which I know." 
Before Ithobal could reply, Sakon called in a loud voice : — 
"Enough, enough! Is this a place for brawling, king 
Ithobal, and would you seek to fix a quarrel upon my guest, 
the prince Aziel, here in my council chamber, and to bring 
upon me the wrath of Israel, of Tyre, and of Egypt ? Be 
sure that the prince shall cross no swords with you ; no, 
not if I have to set him under guard to keep him safe. To 
your business, king Ithobal, or I break up this assembly and 
send you under escort to our gates." 

Now his counsellors plucked Ithobal by the sleeve and 
whispered to him some advice, which at last he seemed to 
take with an ill grace, for, turning, he said, "So be it. This 
is my business, Sakon : For many years I and the countless 
tribes whom I rule have suffered much at the hands of you 
Phcenicians, who centuries ago settled here in my country 
as traders. That you should trade we are content, but wo^ 

1 24 ELISSA. 

that 3'ou should establish yourselves as a sovereign power, 
pretending to be my equals who are my servants. Therefore, 
in the name of my nation, I demand that the tribute which 
you pay to me for the user of the mines of gold shall hence- 
forth be doubled ; that the defences of this city be thrown 
down ; and that you cease to enslave the natives of the land 
to labour in your service. I have spoken.'* 

Now as these arrogant demands reached their ears, the 
company assembled in the hall murmured with anger and 
astonishment, then turned to wait for Sakon's answer. 

*'And if we refuse these small requests of yours, O King?" 
asked the governor sarcastically, " what then ? Will you 
make war upon us ? " 

** First tell me, Sakon, if you do refuse them." 

" In the name of the cities of Tyre and Sidon whom I 
serve, and of Hiram my master, I refuse them one and all," 
answered Sakon with dignity. 

" Then, Sakon, I am minded to bring up a hundred thou- 
sand men against you and to sweep you and your city from 
the face of earth," said Ithobal. ** Yet I remember that I 
also have Phcenician blood in my veins mixed with the 
nobler and more ancient blood at which yonder upstart jeers, 
and therefore I would spare you. I remember also that for 
generations there has been peace and amity between my 
forefathers and the Council of this city, and therefore I 
would spare you. Behold, then, I build a bridge whereby 
you may escape, asking but one little thing of you in proof 
that you are indeed my friend, and it is that you give me 
your daughter, the lady Elissa, whom I seek to make my 
queen. Think well before you answer, remembering that 
upon this auvswer may hang the lives of all who listen to 
you, ay, and of many thousand others." 

For a while there was silence in the assemblage, and every 
eye was fixed upon Elissa, who stood neither moving nor 
speaking, her face still set like that of a Sphinx, and almost 
as unreadable. Aziel gazed at her with the rest, and his 


eyes she felt alone of all the hundreds that were bent upon 
her. Indeed, so strongly did they draw her, that against 
her own will she turned her head and met them. Then 
remembering what had passed between herself and the 
prince that ver)' day, she coloured faintly and looked down, 
neither the glance nor the blush escaping the watchful Ithobal. 

Presently Sakon spoke : — 

** King Ithobal," he said, ** I am honoured indeed that you 
should seek my daughter as your queen, but she is my only 
child^ whom I love, and I have sworn to her that I will not 
force her to marry against her will, whoever be the suitor. 
Therefore, King, take your answer from her own lips, for 
whatever it be it is my answer.'* 

"Lady," said Ithobal, "you have heard your father's 
words ; be pleased to say that you look with favour upon my 
suit, and that you will deign to share my throne and power." 

Elissa took a step forward on the dais and curtseyed low 
before the king. 

" O King ! " she said, " I am your handmaid, and great 
indeed is the favour that you would do your servant. Yet, 
King, I pray of you search out some fairer woman of a more 
royal rank to share your crown and sceptre, for I am all 
unworthy of them, and to those words on this matter which 
I have spoken in past days I have none to add." Then 
again she curtseyed, adding, '* King, I am your servant." 

Now a murmur of astonishment went up from the audience, 
for few of them thought it possible that Elissa, who, however 
beautiful, was but the daughter of a noble, could refuse to 
become the wife of a king. Ithobal alone did not seem to 
be astonished, for he had expected this answer. 

" Lady," he said, repressing with an effort the passions 
which were surging within him, " I think that I have some- 
thing to offer to the woman of my choice, and yet you put 
me aside as lightly as though I had neither name, nor power, 
nor station. This, as it seems to me, can be read in one 
way only, that your heart is given elsewhere." 

126 EUSSA. 

" Have it as you will, King," answered Elissa, ** my heart 
is given elsewhere." 

" And yet, lady, not four suns gone you swore to me that 
you loved no man. Since then it seems that you have 
learned to love, and swiftly, and it is yonder Jew whom you 
have chosen." And he pointed to the prince Aziel. 

Again Elissa coloured, this time to the eyes, but she 
showed no other sign of confusion. 

** May the king pardon me," she said, ** and may the 
prince Aziel, whose name has thus been coupled with mine, 
pardon me. I said indeed that my heart was given else- 
where, but I did not say it was given to any man. May 
not the heart of a mortal maid-priestess be given to the 

Now for a moment the king was silenced, while a murmur 
of applause at her ready wit went round the audience. But 
before it died away a voice at the far end of the hall called 
out : — 

" Perchance the lady does not know that yonder in Egypt, 

and in Jerusalem also, prince Aziel is named the Ever- 

1* • » » 

Now it was Elissa's turn to be overcome. 

" Nay, I knew it not," she said ; " how should I know it ? 
I spoke of that Dweller in the heavens whom I worship " 

" And behold, the title fits a dweller on the earth whom 
you must also worship, for such omens do not come by 
chance," cried the same voice, but from another quarter of 
the crowded hall. 

*' I ask pardon," broke in Aziel, " and leave to speak. It is 
true that owing to a certain birth-mark which I bear, among 
the Egyptians I have been given the bye-name of the Ever- 
living, but it is one which this lady can scarcely have heard, 
therefore jest no more upon a chance accident of words. 
Moreover, if you be men, cease to heap insult upon a woman. 
I who am almost a stranger here have not dared to ask the 
lady Elissa for her favour." 


"Ay, but you will ask and she will grant/* answered the 
same voice, the owner of which none could discover — for he 
seemed to speak from every part of the chamber. 

" Indeed/' went on Aziel, not heeding the interruption, 
*• the last words between us were words of anger, for we 
quarrelled on a matter of religion/' 

"What of that ? ** cried the voice; *' love is the highest 
of religions, for do not the Phoenicians worship it ? " 

" Seize yonder knave,*' shouted Sakon, and search was 
made but without avail. Afterwards, however, Aziel re- 
membered that once, when they were weather-bound on 
their journey from the coast, Metem had amused them by 
making his voice sound from various quarters of the hut in 
which they lay. Then Ithobal rose and said : — 

** Enough of this folly ; I am not here to juggle with words, 
or to listen to such play. Whether the lady Elissa spoke 
of the gods she serves or of a man is one to me. I care not 
of whom she spoke, but for her words I do care. Now hearken, 
you city of traders : If this is to be my answer, then I break 
down that bridge which I have built, and it is war between 
you and my Tribes, war to the end. But let her change her 
words, and whether she loves me or loves me not, come to 
be my wife, and, for my day, the bridge shall stand ; for once 
that we are wed I can surely teach her love, or if I cannot, 
at least it is she I seek with or without her love. Reflect 
then, lady, and reply again, remembering how much hangs 
upon your lips.** 

** Do you think, king Ithobal," Elissa answered, looking 
at him with angry eyes, " that a woman such as I am can be 
won by threats ? I have spoken, king Ithobal." 

** I know not,** he replied ; " but I do know that she can 
be won by force, and then surely, lady, your pride shall pay 
the price, for you shall be mine, but not my queen." 

Now one of the council rose and said : — 

" It seems, Sakon, that there is more in this matter than 
whether or no the king Ithobal pleases your daughter. Is 


128 ELISSA. 

the city then to be plunged into a great war, of which none 
can see the end, because one woman looks askance upon a 
man ? Better that a thousand girls should be wedded where 
they would not than that such a thing should happen. Sakon, 
according to our ancient law you have the right to give your 
daughter in marriage where and when you will. We demand, 
therefore, that for the good of the commonwealth, you should 
exercise this right, and hand over the lady Elissa to king 

This speech was received with loud and general shouts of 
approval, since no Phoenician audience would have been 
willing to sacrifice its interests for a thing so trivial as the 
happiness of a woman. 

** Between the desire of a beloved daughter to whom I 
have pledged my word and my duty to the great city over 
which I rule, my strait is hard indeed,'* answered Sakon. 
" Hearken, king Ithobal, I must have time. Give me eight 
days from now in which to answer you, for if you will not, I 
deny your suit." 

Ithobal seemed about to refuse the demand of Sakon. Then 
once more his counsellors plucked him by the sleeve, point- 
ing out to him that if he did this, it was likely that none of 
them would leave the city alive. At some sign from the 
governor, they whispered, the captains of the guard were 
already hastening from the hall. 

*' So be it, Sakon," he said. " To-night I camp without 
your walls, which are no longer safe for one who has 
threatened war against them, and on the eighth day from 
this see to it that your heralds bring me the Lady Elissa and 
peace — or I make good my threat. Till then, farewell." 
And placing himself in the midst of his company king 
Ithobal left the hall. 




Some two hours had passed since the break-up of the 
assembly in the great hall. Prince Aziel was seated in 
his chamber, when the keeper of the door announced that 
a woman was without who desired to speak with him. He 
gave orders that she should be admitted, and presently a 
veiled figure entered the room and bowed before him. 

** Be pleased to unveil, and to tell me your business," he 

With some reluctance his visitor withdrew the wrapping 
from her head, revealing a face which Aziel recognised as 
one that he had seen among the waiting women who 
attended on Elissa. 

" My message is for your ear, Prince," she said, glancing 
at the man who had ushered her into the chamber. 

*' It is not my custom to receive strangers thus alone,'' 
said the prince ; ** but be it as you will," and he motioned 
to the servant to retire without the door. " I await your 
pleasure/' he added, when the man had gone. 

** It is here," she answered, and drew from her bosom a 
little papyrus roll. 

" Who wrote this ? " he asked. 

** I know not, Prince ; it was given to me to pass on to 

Then he opened the roll and read. It ran thus : " Though 
we parted with bitter words, still in my sore distress I crave 
the comfort of your counsel. Therefore, since I am forbidden 
to speak with you openly, meet me, I beseech you, at moot\- 

1 30 ELISSA. 

rise in the palace garden under the shade of the great Rg 
tree with five roots, where I shall be accompanied only by 
one I trust. Bring no man with you for my safety's sake. 
— Elissa." 

Aziel thrust the scroll into his robe, and thought awhile. 
Then he gave the waiting lady a piece of gold and said : — 

** Tell her who sent you that I obey her words. Farewell." 

This message seemed to puzzle the woman, who opened 
her lips to speak. Then, changing her mind^ she turned 
and went. 

Scarcely had she gone when the Phoenician, Metem, was 
ushered into the room. 

" O Prince," he said maliciously, ** pardon me if I caution 
you. Yet in truth if veiled ladies flit thus through your 
apartments in the light of day, it will reach the ears of the 
holy but violent Issachar, of whose doings I come to speak. 
Then, Prince, I tremble for you." 

Aziel made a movement half-impatient and half-con- 
temptuous. "The woman is a serving-maid," he said, 
" who brought me a message that I understand but little. 
Tell me, Metem, for you know this place of old, does there 
stand in the palace garden a great fig tree with five roots ? " 

"Yes, Prince; at least such a tree used to grow there 
when last I visited this country. It was one of the wonders 
of the town, because of its size. What of it ? " 

" Little, except that I must be under it at moonrise. See 
and read, since whatever you may say of yourself, you are, 
I think, no traitor." 

**Not if I am well paid to keep counsel. Prince," Metem 
answered with a smile. Then he read the scroll. 

" I am glad that the noble lady brings an attendant with 
her," he said as he returned it, with a bow. " The gossips 
of Zimboe are censorious, and might misinterpret this moon- 
light meeting, as indeed would Sakon and Issachar. Well, 
doves will coo and maids will woo, and unless I can make 
money out of it the affair is none of mine." 


** Have I not told you that there is no question of woo- 
ing ? " asked the prince angrily. " I go only to give her 
what counsel I can in the matter of the suit of this savage, 
Ithobal. The lady Elissa and I have quarrelled beyond 
repair over that accursed sacrifice " 

"Which her ready wit prevented," put in Metem. 

"But I promised last night that I would help her if I 
could," the prince went on, " and I always keep my word." 

" I understand. Prince. Well, since you turn from the 
lady, whose name with yours is so much in men's mouths 
just now, doubtless you will give her wise counsel, namely, 
to wed Ithobal, and lift the shadow of war from this city. 
Then, indeed, we shall all be grateful to you, for it seems 
that no one else can move her stubbornness. And, by the 
way: If, when she has listened to your wisdom, the 
daughter of Sakon should chance to e.xplain to you that the 
sight of this day's attempted sacrifice filled her with horror, 
and that she parted with every jewel she owns to put an end 
to it — well, her words will be true. But, since you have 
quarrelled, they will have no more interest for you. Prince, 
than has my talk about them. So now to other matters." 
And Metem began to speak of the conduct of Issachar in the 
sanctuary, and of the necessity of guarding him against 
assassination at the hands of the priests of El as a con- 
sequence of his religious zeal. Presently he was gone, 
leaving Aziel somewhat bewildered. 

Could it be true, as she herself had told him, and as Metem 
now asserted, that Elissa had not participated willingly in 
the dark rites in the temple ? If so he had misjudged her 
and been unjust ; indeed, what atonement could suffice for 
such words as he had used towards her ? Well, to some 
extent she must have understood and forgiven them, other- 
wise she would scarcely have sought his aid, though he 
knew not how he could help her in her distress. 

• ••••• •••• 

When Elissa returned from the assembly, she \a\d \\ex^^\S. 

132 ELISSA. 

down to rest, worn out in mind and body. Soon sleep came 
to her, and with the sleep dreams. At first these were 
vague and shadowy, then they grew more clear. She dreamed 
that she saw a dim and moonlit garden, and in it a vast tree 
with twisted roots that seemed familiar to her. Something 
moving among the branches of this tree attracted her atten- 
tion, but for a long while she watched it without being able 
to discover what it was. Now she saw. The moving thing 
was a hideous black dwarf with beady eyes, who held in his 
hand a little ivory tipped bow, on the string of which was 
set an arrow. Her consciousness concentrated itself upon 
this arrow, and though she knew not how, she became 
aware that it was poisoned. What was the dwarf doing in 
the tree with a bow and poisoned arrow, she wondered ? 
Suddenly a sound seemed to strike her ear, a sound of a 
man's footsteps walking over grass, and she perceived that 
the figure of the dwarf, crouched upon the bough, became 
tense and alert, and that his fingers tightened upon the bow- 
string till the blood was driven from their yellow tips. Fol- 
lowing the glance of his wicked black eyes, she saw advanc- 
ing through the shadow a tall man clad in a dark robe. 
Now he emerged into a patch of moonlight and stood looking 
around him as though he were searching for some one. Then 
the dwarf raised himself to his knees upon the bough, and, 
aiming at the bare throat of the man, drew the bow-string to 
his ear. At this moment the victim turned his head and the 
moonlight shone full upon his face. It was that of the 
prince Aziel. 

Elissa awoke from her vision with a little cry, then rose 
trembling, arid strove to comfort herself in the thought 
that although it was so very vivid she had dreamed but a 
dream. Still shaken and unnerved, she passed into another 
chamber, and made pretence to eat of the meal that was made 
ready for her, for it was now the hour of sunset. While she 
was thus employed, it was announced that the Phcenician, 


Metem, desired to speak with her, and she commanded that 
he should be admitted. 

'* Lady/* he said bowing, so soon as her attendants had 
withdrawn to the farther end of the chamber, ** you can guess 
my errand. This morning I gave you certain tidings which 
proved both true and useful, and for those tidings you 
promised a reward." 

" It is so,'* she said, and going to a chest she drew from 
it an ivory casket full of ornaments of gold and among them 
necklaces and other objects set with uncut precious stones. 
Take them," she said, " they are yours ; that is, save this 
gold chain alone, for it is vowed to Baaltis." 

** But lady," he asked, " how can you appear before 
Ithobal the king thus robbed of all your ornaments ? " 

*' I shall not appear before Ithobal the king," she answered 

" You say so ! Then what will the prince Aziel think of 
you when he sees you thus unadorned ? " 

" My beauty is my adornment," she replied, " not these 
gems and gold. Moreover, it is nought to me what he 
thinks, for he hates me, and has reviled me." 

Metem lifted his eyebrows incredulously and went on : 
** Still, I will not deprive you of this woman's gear. Look 
now, I value it, and at no high figure," and drawing out his 
writer s palette and a slip of papyrus, he wrote upon it an 
acknowledgment of debt, which he asked her to sign. 

** This document, lady," he said, " I will present to your 
father — or your husband — at a convenient season, nor do I 
fear that either of them will refuse to honour it. And now 
I take my leave, for you — have an appointment to keep — 
and," he added with emphasis, " the time of moonrise is at 

"Your meaning, I pray you?" she asked. "I have no 
appointment at moonrise, or at any other hour." 

Metem bowed politely, but in a fashion which showed 
that he put no faith in her words. 

1 34 ELISSA. 

*' Again I ask your meaning, merchant," she said, '*for 
your dark hintings are scarcely to be borne." 

The Phoenician looked at her ; there was a ring of truth 
in her voice. 

** Lady," he said, ** will you indeed deny, after I have seen 
it written by yourself, that within some few minutes you 
meet the prince Aziel beneath a great tree in the palace 
gardens, there — so said the scroll — to ask his aid in this 
matter of the suit of Ithobal ? " 

•'Written by myself?" she said wonderingly. •* Meet 
the prince Aziel beneath a tree in the palace gardens? 
Never have I thought of it." 

" Yet, lady, the scroll I saw purported to be written by 
you, and your own woman bore it to the prince. As I 
think, she sits yonder at the end of the chamber, for I know 
her shape." 

'* Come hither," called Elissa, addressing the woman. 
** Now tell me, what scroll was this that you carried to-day 
to the prince Aziel, saying that I sent you ? " 

** Lady," answered the girl confusedly, ** I never told the 
prince Aziel that you sent him the scroll." 

" The truth, woman, the truth," said her mistress. " Lie 
not, or it will be the worse for you." 

" Lady, this is the truth. As I was walking through the 
market-place an old black woman met me, and offered me a 
piece of gold if I would deliver a letter into the hand of the 
prince Aziel. The gold tempted me, for I had need of it, 
and I consented ; but of who wrote the letter I know nothing, 
nor have I ever seen the woman before." 

"You have done wrong, girl," said Elissa, ** but I believe 
your tale. Now go." 

When she had gone, Elissa stood for a while thinking; 
and, as she thought, Metem saw a look of fear gather on her 

** Say," she asked him, '* is there anything strange about 
this tree of which the scroll tells ? " 


** Its size is strange," he answered, *• and it has five roots 
that stand above the ground." 

As he spoke Elissa uttered a little cry. 

** Ah ! " she said, ** it is the tree of my dream. Now — 
now I understand. Swift, oh ! come with me swiftly, for 
see, the moon rises," and she sprang to the door followed by 
the amazed Metem. 

Another minute, and they were speeding down the narrow 
street so fast that those who loitered there turned their 
heads and laughed, for they thought that a jealous husband 
pursued his wife. As Elissa fumbled at the hasp of the 
door of the garden, Metem overtook her. 

** What means this hunt ? " he gasped. 

** That they have decoyed the prince here to murder him," 
she answered, and sped through the gateway. 

** Therefore we must be murdered also. A woman's 
logic," the Phcenician reflected to himself as he panted after 

Swiftly as Elissa had run down the street, here she 
redoubled her speed, flitting through the glades like some 
white spirit, and so rapidly that her companion found it 
difficult to keep her in view. At length they came to a lar*;e 
open space of ground where played the level beams of the 
rising moon, striking upon the dense green foliage of an 
immense tree that grew there. Round this tree Elissa ran, 
glancing about her wildly, so that for a few seconds Metem 
lost sight of her, for its mass was between them. When he 
saw her again she was speeding towards the figure of a man 
who stood in the open, about ten paces from the outer 
boughs of the tree. To this she pointed as she came, crying 
out aloud, " Beware ! Beware ! " 

Another moment and she had almost reached the man, 
and still pointing began to gasp some broken words. Then, 
suddenly in the bright moonlight, Metem saw a shining 
point of light flash towards the pair from the darkness of 
the tree. It would seem that Elissa saw it also ; at leasts 


she leapt from the ground, her arm lifted above her head as 
though to catch the object. Then as her feet once more 
touched the earth her knees gave way, and she fell down 
with a moan of pain. Metem running on towards her, 
as he went perceived a shape, which looked like that of a 
black dwarf, slip from the shadow of the tree into some 
bushes beyond where it was lost. Now he was there, to 
find Elissa half-seated, half-lying on the ground, the prince 
Aziel bending over her, and fixed through the palm of her 
right hand, which she held up piteously, a little ivory- 
pointed arrow. 

** Draw it out from the wound," he panted. 

** It will not help me," she answered ; ** the arrow is 

With an exclamation, Metem knelt beside her, and, not 
heeding her groans of pain, drew the dart through the 
pierced palm. Then he tore a strip of linen from his robe, 
and knotting it round Elissa's wrist, he took a broken stick 
that lay near and twisted the linen till it almost cut into her 

" Now, Prince," he said, " suck the wound, for I have no 
breath for it. F^ear not, lady, I know an antidote for this 
arrow poison, and presently I will be back with the salve. 
Till then, if you would live, do not suffer that bandage to be 
loosed, however much it pains you,** and he departed 

Aziel put his lips to the hurt to draw out the poison. 

*' Nay," she said faintly, trying to pull away her hand^ 
*' it is not fitting, the venom may kill you." 

" It seems that it was meant for me," he answered, ** so at 
the worst I do take but my own." 

Presently, directing Elissa to hold her hand above her 
head, he put his arms about her and carried her a hundred 
paces or more into the open glade. 

** Why do you move me ? " she asked, her head resting on 
his shoulder. 

"The arrow is poisoned." 





R L 


'* Because whoever it was that shot the arrow may return 
to try his fortune a second time, and here in the open his 
darts cannot reach us." Then he set her down upon the 
grass and stood looking at her. 

"Listen, prince Aziel," Elissa said after a while, "the 
venom with which these black men soak their weapons 
is ver}' strong, and unless Metem's salve be good, it may 
well chance that I shall die. Therefore before I die I wish 
to say a word to you. What brought you to this place 
to-night ? " 

** A letter from yourself, lady." 

** I know it," she said, " "but I did not write that letter; 
it was a snare, set, as I think, by the king Ithobal, who 
would do you to death in this way or in that. A messenger 
of his bribed my waiting-maid to deliver it, and afterwards I 
learnt the tale from Metem. Then, guessing ail, I came 
hither to try to save you." 

" But how could you guess all, lady ? " 

" In a strange fashion, Prince." And in a few words she 
told him her dream. 

" This is marvellous indeed, that you should be warned 
of my danger by visions," he said wondering, and half- 

" So marvellous, Prince, that you do not believe me," 
Elissa answered. " I know well what you think. You 
think that a woman to whom this very morning you spoke 
such words as women cannot well forgive, being revengeful 
laid a plot to murder you, and then, being a woman, changed 
her mind. Well, it is not so ; Metem can prove it to 
you ? " 

" Lady, I believe you," he said, " without needing the 
testimony of Metem. But now the story grows still more 
strange, for if you had done me no wrong, how comes 
it that to preserve me from harm you set your tender 
flesh between the arrow and one who had reviled 
you ? " 



" It was by chance," she answered faintly. " I leamt 
the truth and ran to warn you. Then I saw the arrow fly 
towards your heart, and strove to grasp it, and it pierced 
me. It was by chance, by such a chance as made me dream 
your danger." And she fainted. 




At first Aziel feared that the poison had done its work, and 
that Elissa was dead, till placing his hand upon her heart 
he felt it beating faintly, and knew that she did but swoon. 
To leave her to seek water or assistance was impossible, 
since he dared not loose his hold of the bandage about her 
wrist So, patiently as he might, he knelt at her side 
awaiting the return of Metem. 

How beautiful her pale face seemed there in the moonlight, 
set in its frame of dusky hair. And how strange was this 
tale of hers, of a dream that she had dreamed, a dream which, 
to save his own, led her to offer her life to the murderer's 
arrow. Many would not believe it, but he felt that it was 
true ; he felt that even if she wished it she could not lie to 
him, for as he had known since first they met, their souls 
were open to each other. Yes, having thus been warned of 
his danger, she had offered her life for him — for him who 
that morning had called her, unjustly so Metem said, ** a 
girl of the groves and a murderess ". How came it that she 
had done this, unless indeed she loved him as — he loved her ? 

Aziel could no longer palter with himself, it was the truth. 
Last night when Issachar accused him, he had felt this, 
although then he would not admit it altogether, and now 
to-night he knew that his fate had found him. They would 
say that, after the common fashion of men, he had been 
conquered by a lovely face and form and a brave deed of 
devotion. But it was not so. Something beyond the flesh 
and its works and attributes drew him towards this woman ^ 

140 ELISSA. 

something that he could neither understand nor define (unless, 
indeed, the vision of Issachar defined it), but of which he had 
been conscious since first he set his eyes upon her face. 
It was possible, it was even probable, that before another 
hour had gone by she would have passed beyond his reach 
into the deeps of death, whither for a while he could not 
follow her. Yet he knew that the knowledge that she never 
could be his would not affect the love of her which burnt in 
him, for his desire towards her was not altogether a desire 
of the earth. 

Aziel bent down over the swooning girl, looking into her 
pale face, till her lips almost touched his own, and his breath 
beating on her brow seemed to give her life again. Now she 
stirred, and now she opened her eyes and gazed back at him 
a while, deeply and with meaning, even as he gazed at her. 

He spoke no word, for his lips seemed to be smitten with 
silence, but his heart said, ** I love you, I love you," and her 
heart heard it, for she whispered back : — 

" Bethink you who and what I am." 

** It matters not, for we are one," he replied. 

*' Bethink you," she said again, ** that soon I may be dead 
and lost to you." 

" It cannot be, for we are one," he replied. ** One we 
have been, one we are to-day, and one we shall be through 
all the length of life and death." 

** Prince," she said again, " once more and for the last 
time I say : Bethink you well, for it comes upon me that 
your words are true, and that if I take that which to-night 
you offer, it will be for ever and for aye." 

** For ever and aye, let it be," Aziel said, leaning towards 

*' For ever and for aye, let it be," she repeated, holding up 
her lips to his. 

And thus in the silent moonlit garden they plighted their 
strange troth. 


" Lady," said a voice in their ears, the voice of Metem, ** I 
pray you let me dress your hand, for there is no time to lose." 

Aziel looked up to see the Phcjenician bending over them 
with a sardonic smile, and behind him the tall form of 
Issachar, who stood regarding them, his arms folded on his 

** Holy Issachar," went on Metem with malice, ** be 
pleased to hold this lady's hand, since it seems that the 
prince here can only tend her lips." 

" Nay," answered the Levite, '* what have I to do with 
this daughter of Baaltis ? Cure her if you can, or if you 
cannot, let her die, for so shall a stone of stumbling be 
removed from the feet of the foolish." And he glanced 
indignantly at Aziel. 

** Had it not been for this same stone at least the feet of 
the foolish by now would have pointed skywards. The gods 
send me such a stone if ever a black dwarf draws a poisoned 
arrow at me," answered Metem, as he busied himself with 
his drugs. Then he added, ** Nay, Prince, do not stop to 
answer him, but hold the lady's hand to the light." 

Aziel obeyed, and having washed out the wound with 
water, Metem rubbed ointment into it which burnt Elissa so 
sorely that she groaned aloud. 

** Be patient beneath the pain, lady," he said, " for if it 
has not already passed into your blood, this salve will eat 
away the poison of the arrow." 

Then half-leading and half-carrying her, they brought her 
back to the palace. Here Metem gave her over into the 
care of her father, telling him as much of the story as he 
thought wise, and cautioning him to keep silent concerning 
what had happened. 

At the door of the palace Issachar spoke to Aziel. 

** Did I dream, Prince," he said, ** or did my ears indeed 
hear you tell that idolatress that you loved her for ever, and 
did my eyes see you kiss her on the lips ? " 

" It seems that you saw and heard these things, Issachat " 


142 ELISSA. 

said Aziel, setting his face sternly. ** Now hear this further, 
and then I pray you give me peace on this matter of the 
lady Elissa : If in any way it is possible, I shaU make her 
my wife, and if it be not possible, then for so long as she 
may live at least I will look upon no other woman.'* 

** Then that is good news, Prince, to me, who am charged 
with your welfare, for be sure, if I can prevent you, you shall 
never mix your life with that of this heathen sorceress." 

** Issachar," the prince replied, ** I have borne much from 
you because I know well that you love me, and have stood 
to me in the place of a father. But now, in my turn, I warn 
you, do not seek to work harm to the lady Elissa, for in 
striking her you strike me, and such blows may bring my 
vengeance after them." 

" Vengeance ? " mocked the Levite. ** I fear but one 
vengeance, and it is not yours, nor do I listen to the whisper- 
ings of love when duty points the path. Rather would I see 
you dead, prince Aziel, than lured down to hell by the wiles 
of yonder witch." 

Then before Aziel could answer he turned and left him. 

As Issachar went to his own chamber full of bitterness 
and indignation, he passed the door of Elissa's apartments, 
and came face to face with Metem issuing from them. 

** Will the woman live ? " he asked of him. 

** Be comforted, worthy Issachar. I think so ; that is, if 
the bandage does not slip. I go to tell the prince." 

** Gladly would I give a hundred golden shekels to him 
who brought me tidings that it had slipped, and the woman 
with it, down to the arms of her father Beelzebub," broke in 
the Levite passionately. 

*' Pretty words for a holy man," said Metem, feigning 
amazement. *' Well, Issachar, I will do most things for 
good money, but to shift that bandage would be but murder, 
and this I cannot work even for the gold and to win your 


" FooV' answered Issachar, " did I ask you to do murder ? 
I do not Bght with such weapons ; let the woman live or die 
as it is decreed. Nay, enter my chamber, for I would speak 
with you, who are a cunning man versed in the craft of courts. 
Listen now : I love this prince Aziel, for I have reared him 
from his childhood, and he has been a son to me who have 
none. More, I am sent hither to this hateful land to watch 
him and hold him from harm, and for all that chances to 
him I must account. And now, what has chanced ? This 
woman, Elissa, by her witcheries " 

*• Softly, Issachar ; what witcheries does she need beyond 
those lips and form and eyes ? " 

** By her witcheries, I tell you, has ensnared him so that 
now he swears that he will wed her." 

** What of it, Issachar ? He might travel far to find a 
lovelier woman." 

*• What of it, do you ask, remembering who he is ? What 
of it, when you know his faith, and that this fair idolater 
will sap it, and cause him to cast away his soul ? What of 
it, when with your own ears you heard him swear to love 
her through all the deeps of life and death ? Man, are you 
mad ? " 

*• No, but some might say that you are, holy father, who 
forget that I am also of this religion which you revile. But 
for good or ill, so the matter stands ; and now what is it 
that you wish of me ? *' 

** I wish that you should make it impossible that the prince 
Aziel should take this woman to wife. Not by murder, in- 
deed, for *thou shalt not kill,' saith the law, but by bringing 
it about that she should marry the king Ithobal, or if that 
fail, in any other fashion which seems good to you." 

** * Thou shalt not kill,' saith your law ; tell me then, 
Issachar, does it say also that thou shalt hand over a woman 
to a fate that she chances to hold to be worse than death ? 
Doubtless it is foolish of her, and we should not heed such 
woman's folly. Yet this one has a certain strength oC >n\\\. 

144 ELISSA. 

and I question if all the elders of the city will bring her 
living to the arms of Ithobal." 

** It is nought to me, Metem, if she weds Ithobal, or weds 
him not, save that I do not love this heathen man, and surely 
her temper and her witcheries would bring ruin on him. 
What I would have you do is to prevent her from marrying 
Aziel ; the way I leave to you," 

*• And what should I be paid for this service, holy I ssachar?" 

The Jew thought and answered, ** A hundred gold shekels ". 

**Two hundred gold shekels," replied Metem reflectively, 
" nay, I am sure you said two hundred, Issachar. At least, 
I do not work for less, and it is a small sum enough, seeing 
that to earn it I must take upon myself the guilt of severing 
two loving hearts. But I know well that you are right, and 
that this would be an evil marriage for the prince Aziel, and 
also for the lady Elissa, who then day by day and year by 
year must bear the scourge of your reproaches, Issachar. 
Therefore I will do my best, not for the money indeed, but 
because I see herein a righteous duty. And now here is parch- 
ment, give me the lamp that I may prepare the bond." 

** My word is my bond, Phoenician," answered the Levite 

Metem looked at him. ** Doubtless," he said, " but you 
are old; and this is — a rough country where accidents chance 
at times. Still, the thing would read very ill, and, as you 
say, your word is your bond. Only remember, Issachar, two 
hundred shekels, bearing interest at two shekels a month. 
And now you are weary, holy Issachar, with plotting for the 
welfare of others, and so am I. Farewell, and good dreams 
to you." 

'the Levite watched him go, muttering to himself, ** Alas 
that I should have fallen to such traffic with a knave, but it 
is for your sake and for your soul's sake, O Aziel, my son. I 
pray that Fate be not too strong for me and you." 

For two days from this night Elissa lay almost senseless, 


and by many it was thought that she would die. But when 
Metem saw her on the morning after she had been wounded, 
and noted that her arm was but little swollen, and had not 
turned black, he announced that she would certainly live, 
whatever the doctors of the city might declare. Thereon 
Sakon, her father, and Aziel blessed him, but Issachar said 

As the Phoenician was walking through the market-place 
early on the next day an aged black woman, whom he did 
not know, accosted him, saying that she had a message for 
his ear from the king Ithobal who was camped without the 
city and who desired to see the merchandise that he had 
brought with him from the coasts of Tyre. Now Metem 
had already sold all his wares at a great advantage ; still, as 
he would not neglect this opportunity of trade, he purchased 
others from his fellow merchants, and loading two camels 
with them, set out for the camp of Ithobal, riding on a mule. 
By midday he had reached it. The camp was pitched near 
water in a pleasant grove of trees, and on one of these not 
far from the tent of Ithobal Metem noted that there hung 
the body of a black dwarf. 

" Behold the fate of him who shoots at the buck and 
hits the doe. Well, I have always said that murder is a 
dangerous game, since blood calls out for blood," thought 
Metem as he rode towards the tent. 

At its door stood king Ithobal looking very huge and 
sullen in the sunlight. Metem dismounted and prostrated 
himself obsequiously. 

** May the King live for ever," he said, ** the great King, 
the King to whom all the other kings of the earth are as the 
little gods to Baal, or the faint stars to the sun." 

" Rise, and cease from flatteries," said Ithobal shortly ; 
'* I may be greater than the other kings, but at least you do 
not think it." 

" If the king says so, so let it be," replied Metem calmly. 
" A woman yonder in the market-place told me that the kin.^ 

146 ELISSA. 

wished to trade for my merchandise. So I have brought the 
best of it ; priceless goods that with much toil I have 
carried hither from Tyre,'* and he pointed to the two camels 
laden with the inferior articles which he had purchased, and 
began to read the number and description of the goods from 
his tablets. 

** What value do you set upon the whole of them, 
merchant ? " asked Ithobal. 

** To the traders of the country so much, but to you, O 
King, so much only," and he named a sum twice that which 
he had paid in the city. 

** So be it," assented Ithobal indifferently ; " I do not 
haggle over wares. Though your price is large^ presently 
my treasurer shall weigh you out the gold." 

There was a moment's pause, then Metem said : — 

" The trees in this camp of yours bear evil fruit, O King. 
If I might ask, why does that little black monkey hang 

** Because he tried to do murder with his poisoned arrows," 
answered Ithobal sullenly. 

** And failed ? Well, it must comfort you to think that he 
did fail if he was of the number of your servants. It is 
strange now that some knave unknown attempted murder 
last night in the palace gardens, also with poisoned arrows. 
I say attempted, but as yet I cannot be sure that he did not 

** What ! " exclaimed Ithobal, " was " and he stopped. 

** No, King, prince Aziel was not hit; the Lady Elissa 
took that shaft through her hand, and lies between life and 
death. I am doctoring her, and had it not been for my skill 
she would now be stiff and black — as the rogue who shot 
the arrow." 

** Save her," said Ithobal hoarsely, ** and I will pay you 
a doctor's fee of a hundred ounces of pure gold. Oh ! had 
I but known, the clumsy fool should not have died so easily." 

Metem took out his tablets and made a note of the amount. 

" The trees in this camp of yours bear evil fruit, O King." 

THE >:!:"■ VOHK 




K L 


"Take comfort, King," he said, " I think that I shall earn 
the fee. But to speak truth, this matter looks somewhat 
ugly, and your name is mentioned in it. Also it is said that 
your cousin, the great man whom the prince Aziel slew, was 
charged to abduct a certain lady by your order." 

** Then false tales are told in Zimboe, and not for the first 
time," answered Ithobal coldly. *' Listen, merchant, I have 
a question to ask of you. Will the prince Aziel meet me in 
single combat with whatever weapons he may choose ? " 

** Doubtless, and — pardon me if I say it — slay you as he 
slew your cousin, for he is a fine swordsman, who has studied 
the art in Egypt, where it is understood, and your strength 
would not avail against him. But your question is already 
answered, for though the prince would be glad enough to 
fight you, Sakon will have none of it. Have you nothing 
else to ask me. King ? " 

Ithobal nodded and said : — 

** Listen, merchant. I know your repute of old, that you 
love money and will do much to gain it, and that you are 
craftier than any hill-side jackal. Now, if you can do my 
will, you shall have more wealth than ever you won in your 
life before." 

** The offer sounds good in a poor man's ears, King, but it 
depends upon what is your will." 

Ithobal went to the door of the tent, and commanded the 
sentries who stood without to suffer none to disturb him or 
draw near. Then he returned and said : — 

** I will tell you, but beware that you do not betray my 
counsels in this or in any other matter, for I have sharp ears' 
and a long arm. You know how things are between me and 
the lady Elissa and her father Sakon and the city which he 
governs. They stand thus : Unless within eight days she is 
given to me in marriage, I have sworn that I will make war 
u[>on Zimboe. Ay, and I will make it, for, filled with hate 
of the white man, already the great tribes are gathering to 
my banners in ten armies, each of them ten thousand strong. 

148 ELISSA. 

Once let them march beneath yonder walls, and before they 
leave it Zimboe, city of gold, shall be nothing but a heap of 
ruins, and a habitation of the dead. Such shall be my 
vengeance ; but I seek love more than vengeance, for what 
will it avail me to butcher all that people of traders if — as 
well may chance in the accidents of war — I lose her whom I 
desire, whose beauty shall be my crown of crowns, and whose 
mind shall make me great indeed ? 

** Therefore, Metem, if may be, I would win her without 
war ; let the war come afterwards, as come it must, for the 
time is ripe. And though she turned from me, this I should 
have done, had it not been for yonder prince Aziel, whom she 
met in a strange fashion, and straightway learned to love. 
Now the thing is more difficult. Nay, while the prince 
Aziel can take her to wife it is well-nigh impossible, since no 
threats of war or ruin can turn a woman's heart from him 
she seeks — to him she flies. Therefore, I ask you " 

'* Your pardon, King," Metem broke in, " I see that you, 
like your rival, are so besotted with fhe beauty of this girl, 
that in all with which she has to do you have lost the rule of 
your own reason. I would save you perchance from saying 
words to which I do not wish to listen, and when you find a 
quiet mind again, that you may regret having spoken. If 
you were about to require of me that I should cause or be 
privy to the death of the prince Aziel, you would require it 
in vain ; yes, even if you are willing to pay me gold in 
mountains, and gems in camel loads. With murder I will 
have nothing to do ; moreover, the prince, your rival, is my 
friend and master, and I will not harm him. Further, I 
may tell you that after the adventure of last night none will 
be able to come near him to hurt a hair of his head, seeing 
that through daylight and through darkness he is guarded 
by two men." 

*' With a woman's body to set before him as a shield," said 
|hobal bitterly. ** But you speak too fast ; I was not about 
k you to kill this man, or even to procure his death, 


because I know it would be useless, but rather that you 
should so contrive that he cannot take Elissa. How you 
contrive it I care nothing, so that she is not harmed. You 
may kidnap him, or stir up the city against him, as one 
destined to be the source of war, and cause him to be 
despatched back to the great sea, or bribe the priests of El 
to hide him away, or what you will, if only you separate him 
from this woman for ever. Say, merchant, are you willing 
to undertake the task, or must my good gold go elsewhere ? '' 

Metem pondered awhile and answered : — 

*' I think that I will undertake it, King ; that is, if we come 
to terms, though whether I shall succeed is another matter. I 
will undertake it not only because I seek to enrich myself, but 
because I and others who serve him think it a very evil thing 
that this prince Aziel, whose blood is the most royal in the 
whole world, without the consent of the great king of Israel, his 
grandfather, should wed the daughter of a Phcenician officer, 
however beautiful and loving she may be. Also I love yonder 
city, which I have known for forty years, and would not see 
it plunged in a bloody war and perhaps destroyed because a 
certain man desires to call a certain girl his sweetheart. And 
now if I succeed in this, what will you give me ? " 

Ithobal named a great sum. 

"King," replied Metem, **you must double it, for that 
amount you speak of I shall be forced to spend in bribes. 
More ; you must give me the gold now, before I leave your 
camp, or I will do nothing." 

** That you may steal it — and do nothing," laughed Ithobal 

" As you will, King. Such are my terms ; if they do not 
please you, well, let me go. But if you accept them, I will 
sign a bond under which if within eight days I do not make 
it impossible for the prince Aziel to marry the lady Elissa, 
you may reclaim so much of the gold as I do not prove to 
you to have been spent upon your service, and no bond of 
Metem the Phoenician was ever yet dishonoured. No, on 



second thought I will learn wisdom from Issachar the 
Levite and put my hand to no writing which it would 
pain me that some should read. King, my sworn word 
must content you. Another thing, soon war may break out, 
or I may be forced to fly. Therefore, I demand of you a 
pass sealed with your seal that will enable me to ride with 
twenty men and all my goods and treasure, even through 
the midst of your armies. Moreover you shall swear the 
great oath to me that notice of this pass will be given to 
your generals and that it shall be respected to the letter. 
Do you consent to these terms ? " 
** I consent," said the king presently. 

That evening Metem returned to the city of Zimboe, but 
those who led his two camels little guessed that now they 
were laden, not with merchandise, but with treasure. 




When Metem accepted bribes from Issachar and from 
Ithobal, in consideration of his finding means to make the 
union of Aziel and Elissa impossible, he had already thought 
out his scheme. It was one which, while promoting, as he 
considered, the true welfare of the lovers, if successful would 
separate them effectually and for ever. 

It will be remembered that Elissa had explained to the 
prince how, on the death of the lady Baaltis, another 
woman was elected by the colleges of the priests and 
priestesses to fill her place. This lady could marry, indeed 
she was expected to do so, but her husband must take the 
title of Shadid, and for her lifetime act as high-priest of El. 
Therefore, thought Metem, if it could be brought about 
that Elissa should be chosen as the new Baaltis, it was 
obvious that there would be an end of the possibility of her 
marriage to Aziel. Then, in order to wed her, he must 
renounce his own religion — a thing which no Jew would do 
— and pose as the earthly incarnation of one whom he 
considered a false divinity or a devil. 

Indeed, not only marriage, but any further intimacy 
between the pair would be rendered impracticable, for upon 
this point the religious law, lax enough in many particulars, 
was very strict. In fact, so strict was it that for the lady 
Baaltis of the day to be found alone with any man meant 
death to her and him. The reason of this severity was that 
she was supposed to represent the goddess ; and her husband, 
the Shadid, a god, so that any questionable behaviour on 

152 ELISSA. 

her part became an insult to the most powerful divinities of 
Heaven, which could only be atoned by the death of their 
unworthy incarnations. That these laws were actual and 
not formal only was proved by the instance that within the 
hundred years before the birth of Elissa, a lady Baaltis had 
been executed for some such offence, having been hurled 
indeed from the topmost pinnacle of the fortress above the 
temple to the foot of the precipice beneath. 

All these sacerdotal customs were familiar to Metem, 
who argued from them that to procure the nomination of 
Elissa as the Baaltis would be to build an impassible 
wall between her and the prince Aziel. Also, by way of 
compensation, that office would confer upon her the highest 
dignity and honour which could be attained by any woman in 
the city. Moreover, her election would place her beyond 
the reach of the persecutions of Ithobal, since as lady 
Baaltis she was entitled to choose her own husband without 
hindrance or appeal, provided only that he was of pure 
white blood, which Ithobal was not. 

Having thought the matter out, and convinced himself 
that such a course would not only benefit his own pocket, 
but prove to the lasting advantage of all concerned, Metem, 
filled with a glow of righteous zeal, set about his task with 
the promptitude and cunning of his race. It was not an 
easy task, for although she had enemies and rivals, the 
daughter of the dead Baaltis, Mesa by name, was con- 
sidered to be certain of election at the poll of the priests 
and priestesses. This ceremony was to take place within 
two days. Nothing discouraged, however, by the scant time 
at his disposal or other difficulties, without her knowledge 
or that of her father, Metem began his canvass on behalf of 

First with a great sum of gold he bought over the ex- 
Shadid, the husband of the late lady Baaltis. As it chanced, 
this worthy had quarrelled with his daughter. Therefore it 
followed that he would prefer to see some stranger chosen 


in her place in the hope that, notwithstanding his years, by 
choosing him in marriage she might confirm him in his 
position of spouse to the goddess. 

All Metem's further negotiations need not be followed : 
money played a part in most of them ; jealousy and dislike 
in some. A few there were also whom he won over by 
urging the beauty and wisdom of Elissa, and her ex- 
traordinary fitness for the post, as evinced by her recent 
inspiration in the temple ! He found his most powerful 
allies, however, among the members of the council of the 
city. To these grandees he pointed out that Elissa was a 
woman of great strength of character, who would certainly 
never consent to be forced into a marriage with Ithobal, 
although her refusal should mean a desperate war, and that 
her father was so much under her influence that he could 
not be brought to put pressure upon her. Therefore it was 
obvious that the only way out of the difficulty was her 
election as Baaltis. This must prove a perfect answer to 
the suit of the savage king, since the goddess could not be 
compelled, and even Ithobal, fearing the vengeance of 
Heaven, would shrink from offering her violence. 

Their support gained, having first sworn him to secrecy, 
he attacked Sakon himself, using similar arguments with 
him. He pointed out, in addition, that if the governor 
hoped to see his daughter married to prince Aziel, who was 
in love with her, however dazzling might be the prospects 
of such a match, it would certainly bring upon him the 
present wrath of Ithobal, and, in all probability, future 
trouble with the Courts of Egypt, of Israel, and through 
them, of Tyre. Thus working in many ways, Metem 
laboured incessantly to attain his end, so that when at last 
the hour of election came he awaited its issue, fairly confident 
of success. 

It was on this same afternoon that for the first time since 
she had received the arrow which was meant for his heart, 
Aziel was admitted to see Elissa. Now at length her 


1 54 ELISSA. 

recovery was certain, although she had not yet shaken off 
her weakness, and her right arm and wrist were still stiff 
and swollen. Except for two or three of her women, who 
were seated at their work behind a screen near the far end 
of the great chamber, she was alone, lying upon a couch in 
the recess of the window-place. Advancing to her, Aziel 
bent down to kiss her wounded hand. 

"Nay," said Elissa, hiding it beneath the folds of her 
robe, '* it is still black and unsightly with the poison." 

** The more reason that I should kiss it, seeing how the 
stain came there," he answered. 

Her eyes met his, and she whispered, ** Not my hand, but 
my brow. Prince, for so shall I be crowned." 

He pressed his lips upon her forehead, and replied : — 

** Queen of my heart you are already, and though the 
throne be humble it is sure. The life you saved is yours, 
and no other's." 

'* I did but repay a debt," she answered; ** but speak of 
it no more. Gladly would I have died to save you ; should 
such choice arise, would you do so for me, I wonder? " 

" There is little need to ask such a question, lady ; for 
your sake I would not only die, I would even endure shame 
— that is worse than death." 

" Sweet words, Aziel," she answered smiling, ** of which 
we shall learn the value when the hour of trial comes, as 
come, I think, it will. You told me but now that you were 
mine, and no other's ; but is it so ? I have heard the story 
of a certain princess of Khem with whom your name was 
mingled. Tell me, if you will, what was it that set you 
journeying to this far city of ours ? " 

"The desire to find you," he answered smiling; then 
seeing that she still looked at him with questioning eyes, 
he added, ** Nay, this is the truth, if you seek truth. 
Indeed, it is the best that I should tell you, since it se^ms 
that already you have heard something of the tale. A while 
ago I was sent to the Court of the Pharaoh of Egypt, by 


the will of my grandsire, the king of Israel, upon an em- 
bassy of friendship, and to escort thence a certain beautiful 
princess, my cousin, who was affianced by treaty to an uncle 
of mine, a great prince of Israel. This I did, showing to the 
lady courtesy, and no more. But the end of the matter was 
that when we came to Jerusalem the princess refused to be 

married to my uncle, to whom she was betrothed ** And 

he hesitated. 

"Nay, be not timid. Prince," said Elissa sharply ; "con- 
tinue, I pray you. I have heard that the lady added 
somewhat to her refusal." 

" That is so, Elissa. She declared before the king that 
she would wed no man except myself only, whereon my 
uncle was very angry, and accused me of playing him false, 
which, indeed, I had not done." 

"Although the lady was so fair, Aziel ? But what said 
the great king ? " 

'* He said that never having seen him to whom she was 
affianced, he would not suffer that she should be forced into 
marriage with him against her will. Yet that her will 
might be uninfluenced, he commanded that I should be 
sent upon a long journey. That was his judgment, 

** Yes, but not all of it ; surely he added other words ? " 
she broke in eagerly. 

** He added,*' continued Aziel, with some reluctance, 
"that if while I was on this journey the princess changed 
her mind, and chose to wed my uncle, it would be well. 
But, when I returned from it, if she had not changed her 
mind, and chose — to marry me — then it would be well also, 
and, though he was little pleased, with this saying my uncle 
must be satisfied." 

** It does not satisfy me, prince Aziel," Elissa answered, 
the tears starting to her dark eyes. " I know full well that 
the lady will not change her mind, and take a man who is 
in years, and whom she hates, in place of one who is young, 


156 ELISSA. 

and whom she loves. Therefore, when you return hence to 
Jerusalem, by the king's command you will wed her/' 

'* Nay, EHssa ; if I am already married that cannot be," 
he said. 

*' In Judea, Prince, I am told that men take more wives 
than one ; also, they divorce them,*' she replied ; then added, 
"Oh, return not there where I shall lose you. If, indeed, 
you love me, I pray you return not there." 

Before he could answer, a sound of singing and of all 
sorts of music caught Aziel's ear. Looking through the 
casement, he saw a great procession of the priests and 
priestesses of El and Baaltis clad in their festal robes and 
accompanied by many dignitaries of the city, a multitude of 
people and bands of musicians, advancing across the square 
towards the door of the palace. 

** Why, what passes ? " he exclaimed. As he spoke the 
door opened and two richly arrayed heralds, wands of office in 
their hands, entered and prostrated themselves before Elissa. 

" Greeting to you, most noble and blessed lady, the chosen 
of the gods ! " they cried with one voice. " Prepare, we 
beseech you, to hear glad tidings, and to receive those who 
are sent to tell them." 

** Glad tidings ? " said Elissa. *' Has Ithobal then with- 
drawn his suit ? " 

" Nay, lady ; it is not of Ithobal that the messengers 
come to speak." 

"Then I cannot receive them," she said, sinking back in 
apprehension. ** I am still ill and weak, and I pray to be 

** Nay, lady," answered the herald, ** that which they have 
to tell will cure your sickness." 

Again Elissa protested. Before the words had left her 
lips there appeared in the doorway he who had been husband 
of the dead Baaltis, followed by priests and priestesses, by 
Sakon her father, with whom was Metem, and many other 
nobles and dignitaries. 


" All hail, lady ! " they cried, prostrating themselves be- 
fore her. ** All hail, lady, chosen of the gods ! " 

Elissa looked at them bewildered. 

"Your pardon," she said, ** I do not understand." 

Then, rising from his knees, he who was still the Shadid 
until his successor was appointed, addressed her as spokes- 

" Listen," he said, "and learn, lady, the great thing that has 
befallen you. Know, O divine One, that by the inspiration 
of £1 and Baaltis, rulers of the heavens, the colleges of the 
priests and priestesses of the city, following the voice of the 
oracles and the pointing of the omens, have set you in that 
high place which death has emptied. Greeting to you, 
holder of the spirit of the goddess ! Greeting to the 
Baaltis ! " And bowing till their foreheads touched the floor, 
all present there repeated, ** Greeting to the Baaltis ! " 

** 1 did not seek this honour," she murmured in the 
silence that followed, "and I refuse it. The throne of the 
goddess is Mesa's right ; let her take it, or if she will not, 
then find some other woman who is more worthy." 

" Lady," said the Shadid, ** these words become you well, 
but it has pleased the gods to choose you and not my 
daughter, the lady Mesa, or any other woman, and the 
choice of the gods may not be set aside. Till death shall 
take you, you and you alone are the lady Baaltis whom 
we obey." 

** Must I then be made divine against my will," she 
pleaded, and turned to Aziel as though for counsel. 

" Be pleased to stand back, prince Aziel," said the stern 
voice of the Shadid, interposing. " Remember that hence- 
forth no man may speak to the Baaltis save he whom she 
names with the name of Shadid to be her husband. 
Henceforward you are parted, since to seek her company 
would be to cause her death." 

Now understanding that the doom of life-long separation 
had fallen upon them like the sudden sword of fate, Aziel 


and Elissa gazed at each other in despair. Then, before 
either of them could speak a word, at a sign from the 
Shadid, the priestesses closed round Elissa. Throwing a 
white veil over her head, they broke into a joyful paean of 
song, and half-led, half-carried her from the chamber to 
enthrone her in the palace of the goddess, which was 
henceforth to be her home. 

Presently all the company, including the waiting women, 
having joined the procession, the chamber was empty, with 
the exception of Aziel, Metem and Issachar the Levite, 
who, drawn by the sound of singing, had entered the place 

"Take comfort. Prince," said the Phoenician in a half- 
bantering voice, " if you and the lady Baaltis are truly dear 
to each other she may still be yours, for you have but to 
bow the knee to El, and she will name you Shadid and 

'* Blaspheme not," cried Issachar sternly. " Shall a wor- 
shipper of the God of Israel do sacrifice to a demon to win 
a woman's smile ? " 

" That time will prove," answered Metem, shrugging his 
shoulders ; " at least it is certain that he will win it in no 
other way. Prince," he added, changing his tone, "if you 
have any such thoughts, abandon them, I pray of you, for 
on this matter the law may not be broken. The man spoke 
truth, moreover, when he told you that should you be found 
with the Baaltis, not being her husband, you would cause 
her death." 

Aziel took no notice of his words, but turning to the 
Levite, he asked in a quiet voice : — 

" Did you plot this to separate us, Issachar ? If so, you 
shall live to mourn the deed." 

** Listen, Prince," broke in Metem, " it was not Issachar 
who plotted that the lady Elissa should be chosen Baaltis, 
but I, or at least I helped the plot. Shall I tell you why I 
id this ? It was to save you and her, and if possible to 


prevent a great war also. You could not wed this woman 
who is not of your race, or rank, or religion ; and if you 
could, it would bring about a struggle that must cost 
thousands their lives, and this city its wealth. Nor could 
you make of her less than a wife, seeing that she is well- 
born and that you are her father^s guest. Therefore for 
your own sake it is best that she should be placed beyond 
your reach. For her sake also it is best, since she is 
ambitious and born to rule, who henceforth will be clothed 
with power for all her days. Moreover, had it been other- 
wise, in the end she must have passed to that savage 
Ithobal, whom she hates. Now this is scarcely possible, 
for the lady Baaltis can wed no man who is not of pure 
white blood, and whom she does not choose of her own free 
will. That is a decree which may not be broken even by 
Ithobal. So revile me not, but thank me, though for a little 
while your heart be sore." 

" My heart is sore indeed," answered Aziel, ** and if 
you think your words wise, their medicine does not soothe, 
Phoenician. You may have laboured for my welfare and for 
that of the lady Elissa, or, like the huckster that you are, 
for your own advantage, or for both — I know not, and do not 
care to know. But this I know, that you, and Issachar also, 
are striving to snare Fate in a web of sand, and that Fate will 
be too strong for it and you. I love this woman and she 
loves me, because such is our destiny, and no barriers which 
man may build can serve to separate us. Also of this I am 
assured, that by your plots you draw the evils you would 
ward away upon the heads of all of us, for from them shall 
spring war, and deaths, and misery. 

** For the rest, do not think, Metem and Issachar, that 
I, whom you betrayed, and the woman you have ruined 
with a crown of greatness she did not seek, are clay to be 
moulded at your will. It is another hand than yours 
which fashioned the vessel of our destiny ; nor can you 
stay our lips from drinking of the pure wine that fills it. 

l6o ELISSA. 

Farewell," and with a grave inclination of the head he left 
the room. 

Metem watched him go, then he turned to Issachar and 
said : — 

** I have earned my hire well, and you must pay the price, 
but now it troubles me to think that I touched this business. 
Why it is I cannot say, but it comes upon me that the 
prince speaks truth, and that no plot of ours can avail to 
separate these two who were born to each other, although it 
well may happen that we shall unite them in death alone. 
Issachar," he added with fierce conviction, " I will not take 
your gold, for it is the price of blood ! I tell you it is the 
price of blood ! ' 

"Take it or no, as you will, Phoenician," answered the 
Levite ; " at least I am well pleased that the promise of it 
bought your service. Even should the prince Aziel dis- 
charge this day's work with his young life, it is better that 
he should perish in the body than that he should lose his 
soul for the bribe of a woman's passing beauty. Whatever 
else be lost, that is saved to him, since those sorceress lips 
of hers are set beyond his reach. An Israelite cannot mate 
with the oracle of Baaltis, Metem." 

** You say so, Issachar, but I have seen men climb high 
to pluck such fruit. Yes, I have seen them climb even 
when they knew that they must fall before the fruit was 

Then he went also, leaving Issachar alone and oppressed 
with a dread of the future which was none the less real 
because it could not be defined. 




Weak as she was still with recent illness, half-faintinj; also 
from the shock of the terrible and unexpected fate which had 
overtaken her, Elissa was borne in triumph to the palace 
that now was hers. Around her gilded litter priestesses 
danced and sang their wild chants, half-bacchanalian and 
half- religious ; before it marched the priests of Kl, clashing 
cymbals and crying, " Make way, make way for the new- 
bom goddess ! Make way for her whose throne is upon the 
horned moon ! " while all about the multitude of spectators 
prostrated themselves in worship. 

Elissa was borne in triumph. Vaguely she heard the 
shouts and music, dimly she saw the dancing-girls and the 
bowing crowds. But all the while her heart was alive with 
pam and her brain, crushed beneath the menace of this 
misery, could grasp nothing clearly save the completeness 
of her loss. Loss ! Yes, she was lost indeed. One short 
hour ago and she was rejoicing in the presence of the man 
she loved, and who, as she believed, loved her, while in her 
mind rose visions of some happy life with him far away 
from this city and the dark rites of the worshippers of Baal. 
And now she found herself the chief priestess of that worship 
which already she had learned to fear if not to hate. More, 
as its priestess, till death should come to comfort her, she 
was cut off for ever from him whom she adored, cut off 
also from the hope of that new spiritual light which had 
begun to dawn upon her soul. 

Elissa looked upon the beautiful women who leapt and 

1 62 ELISSA. 

sang about her litter, listening to the clash of their ornaments 
of gold, and as she listened and looked her eyes seemed to 
gain power to behold the spirits within them. Surely she 
could see these, dark and hideous things, with shifting 
countenances, terrible to look on, and themselves wearing 
in their eyes of flame a stamp of eternal terror, while in her 
ears the music of their golden necklaces was changed to a 
clank as of fetters and of instruments of torment. Yes ; and 
there before the dancers in the red cloud of dust which rose 
from their beating feet, floated the dim shape of that demon 
of whom she had been chosen the high-priestess. 

Look at her mocking, inhuman countenance, and her bent 
brow of power ! Look at her spread and flaming hair and 
her hundred hands outstretched to grasp the souls of men ! 
Hark ! the clamour Qf the cymbals and the cry of the dancers 
blended together and became her voice, a dreadful voice that 
gave greeting to her priestess, promising her pride of place 
and life-long power in payment for her service. 

** I desire none of these," her heart seemed to answer ; " I 
desire him only whom I have lost." 

** Is it so?" replied the Voice. ** Then bid him burn 
incense upon my altar and take him to yourself. Have I 
not given you enough of beauty to snare a single soul from 
among the servants of my enemy the God of the Jews ? " 

*' Nay, nay ! " her heart cried ; ** I will not tempt him to 
do this evil thing." 

** Yea, yea ! " mocked the phantom Voice ; ** for your sake 
he shall burn incense upon my altar." 

The phantasy passed, and now the golden gates of the 
palace of Baaltis rolled open before Elissa. Now, too, the 
priestesses bore her to the golden throne shaped like a 
crescent moon, and threw over her a black veil spangled 
with stars, symbol of the night. Then having shut out the 
uninitiated, they worshipped her after their secret fashion 
till she sank down upon the throne overcome with fear and 


weariness. Then at last they carried her to that wonder of 
workmanship and allegorical art, the ivory bed of Baaltis, 
and laid her down to sleep. 

At dawn upon the following day an embassy, headed by 
Sakon, governor of the city, in whose train were Metem and 
Aziel, went to the camp of Ithobal. The mission of these 
envoys was to give the king answer to his suit, for he 
refused to come to Zimboe unless he were allowed to bring 
with him a larger force than it was thought prudent to admit 
into the city gates. At some distance from the tents they 
halted, while messengers were sent forward inviting Ithobal 
to a conference on the plain, as it seemed scarcely safe to 
trust themselves within the stout thorn fence which had 
been built about the camp. Metem, who said that he had 
no fear of the king, went with these men, and on reaching 
the zeriha was at once bidden to the pavilion of Ithobal. He 
found the great man pacing its length sullenly. 

"What seek you here, Phoenician?" he asked, glancing 
at him over his shoulder. 

** My fee. King. The king was pleased to promise me 
a hundred ounces of gold if I saved the life of the Lady 
Elissa. I come, therefore, to assure him that my skill has 
prevailed against the poisoned arrow of that treacherous 
dog of the desert, which pierced her hand as she spoke 
with the prince Aziel the other night, and to claim my 
reward. Here is a note of the amount," and he produced 
his tablets. 

'* If half of what I hear is true, rogue," answered Ithobal 
savagely, " the tormentor and the headsman alone could 
satisfy all my debt to you. Say, merchant, what return 
have you made to me for that sackful of gold which you bore 
hence some few days gone ? " 

•* The best of all returns. King," answered Metem cheer- 
fully, although in truth he began to feel afraid. " I have 
kept my word, and fulfilled the command of the king. I have 

164 ELISSA. 

made it impossible that the prince Aziel should wed the 
dauj^hter of Sakon." 

" Yes, rogue, you have made it impossible by causing her 
to be consecrated Baaltis, and thus building a barrier which 
even I shall find too hard to climb. It is scarcely to be 
hoped that now she will choose me of her own will, and to 
offer violence to the Baaltis is a sacrilege from which any 
man — yes, even a king — may shrink, for such deeds draw 
the curse of Heaven. Know that for this service I am 
minded to settle my account with you in a fashion of which 
you have not thought. Have you heard, Phcenician, that 
the chiefs of certain of my tribes love to decorate their spear- 
shafts with the hide of white men, and to bray their flesh 
into a medicine which gives courage to its eater ? " 

With this pleasing and suggestive query Ithobal paused, 
and looked tow^ards the door of the tent as though he were 
about to call his guard. 

Now Metem's blood ran cold, for he knew that this royal 
savage was not one who uttered idle threats. Yet the cool- 
ness and cunning which had so often served him well did 
not fail him in his need. 

" I have heard that your people have strange customs,** 
he answered with a laugh, " but I think that even a spear- 
shaft would scarcely gain beauty from my wrinkled hide, 
and if anything, the eating of my flesh would make trades- 
men and not warriors of your chiefs. Well, let the jest 
pass, and listen. King, in all my schemings ope thought 
never crossed my mind, namely, that you were a man to 
suffer scruples to stand between you and the woman you 
would win. You think that now she is a goddess ? Well, 
if that be so— and it is not for me to say — who could be a 
fitter mate for the greatest king upon the earth than a 
goddess from the heavens ? Take her, king Ithobal, take 
her, and this I will promise you, that when your armies are 
encamped without the walls, the priests of El will absolve 
you of the crime of aspiring to the fair lips of Baaltis,'' 


"The lips of Baaltis/' broke in Ithobal ; "do you think 
that I shall Rnd them sweet when another man has rifled 
them ? Secret chambers are many yonder in the palace 
of the gods, and doubtless the Jew will find his way 

" Nay, King, for between these two I have indeed built a 
wall which cannot be climbed. The worshipper of the Lord 
of Israel may not traffic with the high-priestess of Ashtorcth. 
Moreover, I shall bring it about that ere long Prince Aziel's 
face is set seawards." 

•• Do that, and I will believe you, merchant, though it 
would be better if you could bring it about that his face was 
set earthwards, as I will if I can. Well, this time I spare 
you, though be sure that if aught miscarry, you shall pay 
the price, how, I have told you. Now I go to talk with 
these traders, these outlanders, of Zimboe. Why do you 
wait ? You are dismissed and — alive." 

Metem looked steadily at the tablets which he still held in 
his hand. 

** I have heard," he said humbly, " that the king Ithobal, 
the great king, always pays his debts, and as I — an out- 
lander — shall be leaving Zimboe shortly under his safe 
conduct, I desire to close this small account.'* 

Ithobal went to the door of his tent and commanded that 
his treasurer should attend him, bringing money. Presently 
he came, and at his lord's bidding weighed out one hundred 
ounces of gold. 

" You are right, Phcenician," said Ithobal ; ** I always 
pay my debts, sometimes in gold and sometimes in iron. 
Be careful that I owe you no more, lest you who to-day are 
paid in gold, to-morrow may receive the iron, weighed out 
in the fashion of which I have spoken. Now, begone." 

Metem gathered up the treasure, and hiding it in his 
ample robe, bowed himself from the royal presence and out 
of the thorn-hedged camp. 

" Without doubt I have been in danger," he said to him- 

1 66 ELISSA. 

self, wiping his brow, " since at one time that black brute, 
disregarding the sanctity of an envoy, had it in his mind to 
torture and to kill me. So, so, king Ithobal, Metem the 
Phoenician is also an honest merchant who * always pays his 
debts,' as you may learn in the market-places of Jerusalem, 
of Sidon and of Zimboe, and I owe you a heavy bill for the 
fright you have given me to-day. Little of Elissa's company 
shall you have if I can help it ; she is too good for a cross- 
bred savage, and if before I go from these barbarian lands I 
can set a drop of medicine in your wine, or an arrow in your 
gizzard, upon the word of Metem the Phoenician, it shall be 
done, king Ithobal." 

When Metem reached Sakon and the envoys, he found 
that a message had already been sent to them announcing 
that Ithobal would meet them presently upon the plain out- 
side his camp. But still the king did not come ; indeed, it 
was not until Sakon had despatched another messenger, 
saying that he was about to return to the city, that at length 
Ithobal appeared at the head of a bodyguard of black troops. 
Arranging these in line in front of the camp, he came 
forward, attended by twelve or fourteen counsellors and 
generals, all of them unarmed. Half-way between his own 
line and that of the Phoenicians, but out of bowshot of 
either, he halted. 

Thereon Sakon, accompanied by a similar number of 
priests and nobles, among whom were Aziel and Metem, 
all of them also unarmed, except for the knives in their 
girdles, marched out to meet him. Their escort they left 
drawn up upon the hillside. 

" Let us to business, King," said Sakon, when the formal 
words of salutation had passed. " We have waited long 
upon your pleasure, and already troops move out from the 
city to learn what has befallen us." 

" Do they then fear that I should ambush ambassadors ? " 
asked Ithobal hotly. " For the rest, is it not right that 


servants should bide at the door of their king till it is his 
pleasure to open ? " 

" I know not what they fear,'* answered Sakon, ** but at 
least we fear nothing, for we are too many," and he glanced 
at his soldiers, a thousand strong, upon the hillside. ** Nor 
are the citizens of Zimboe the servants of any man unless 
he be the king of Tyre." 

"That we shall put to proof, Sakon," said Ithobal ; ** but 
say, what does the Jew with you ? " and he pointed to Aziel. 
" Is he also an envoy from Zimboe ? " 

" Nay, King," answered the prince laughing, " but my 
grandsire, the mighty ruler of Israel, charged me always 
to take note of the ways of savages in peace and war, that 
I might learn how to deal with them. Therefore, I sought 
leave to accompany Sakon upon this embassy." 

** Peace, peace ! " broke in Sakon. ** This is no time for 
gibes. King Ithobal, since you did not dare to venture 
yourself again within the walls of our city, we have come 
to answer the demands you made upon us in the Hall of 
Audience. You demanded that our fortifications should be 
thrown down, and this we refuse, since we do not court 
destruction. You demanded that we should cease to enslave 
men to labour in the mines, and to this we answer that for 
every man we take we will pay a tax to his lawful chief, or 
to you as king. You demanded that the ancient tribute 
should be doubled. To this, out of love and friendship, and 
not from fear, we assent, if you will enter into a bond of 
lasting peace, since it is peace that we seek, and not war. 
King, you have our answer." 

"Not all of it, Sakon. How of the first condition — that 
Lady Elissa the fair, your daughter, should be given me to 
wife ? " 

" King, it cannot be, for the gods of heaven have taken 
this matter from our hands, anointing the lady Elissa their 

" Then as I live," answered Ithobal with fury, " I will 


1 68 ELISSA. 

take her from the hands of the gods and anoint her my 
dancing-woman. Do you think to make a mock of me, you 
people of Zimboe, whom I have honoured by desiring one of 
your daughters in marriage ? You seek to trick me with 
your priests' juggling that you may keep her to be the toy 
of yonder princeling ? So be it, but I tell you that I will tear 
your city stone from stone, and anoint its ruins with your 
blood. Yes, your young men shall labour in the mines for 
me, and your high-born maidens shall wait upon my queens. 
Listen, you " — and he turned to his generals — ** Let the 
messengers who are ready start east and west, and north 
and south, to the chiefs whose names you have, bidding 
them to meet me with their tribesmen, at the time and 
place appointed. When next I speak with you, Elders of 
Zimboe, it shall be at the head of a hundred thousand 

** Then, King, on your hands be all the innocent lives that 
these words of yours have doomed, and may the weight of 
their wasted blood press you down to ruin and death." 

Thus answered Sakon proudly, but with pale lips, for do 
what they would to hide it, something of the fear they felt for 
the issue of this war was written on the faces of all his company. 

Ithobal turned upon his heel, deigning no reply, but as 
he went he whispered a word into the ear of two of his 
captains, great men of war, who stayed behind the rest of 
his party searching for something upon the ground. Sakon 
and his counsellors also turned, walking towards their escort, 
but Aziel lingered a little, fearing no danger, and being 
curious to learn what the men sought. 

** What do you seek, captains ? " he asked courteously. 

** A gold armlet that one of us has lost," they answered. 

Aziel let his eyes wander on the ground, and not far away 
perceived the armlet half-hidden in a tussock of dry grass, 
where, indeed, it had been placed. 

"Is this the ring?" he asked, lifting it and holding it 
ards them. 


** It is, and we thank you," they answered, advancing to 
take the ornament 

The next moment, before Aziel even guessed their purpose, 
the captains had gripped him by either arm and were 
dragging him at full speed towards their camp. Under- 
standing their treachery and the greatness of his danger, 
he cried aloud for help. Then throwing himself swiftly to 
the ground, he set his feet against a stone that chanced to 
lie in their path in such fashion that the sudden weight tore 
his right arm from the grip of the man that held him. Now, 
quick as thought, Aziel drew the dagger from his girdle, 
and, still lying upon his back, plunged it into the shoulder 
of the second man so that he loosed him in his pain. Next 
he sprang to his feet, and, leaping to one side to escape the 
rush of his captors, ran like a deer towards the party of 
Sakon, who had wheeled round at the sound of his cry. 

Ithobal and his men had turned also and sped towards them, 
but at a little distance they halted, the king shouting aloud : — 

** I desired to hold this foreigner, who is the cause of war 
between us, hostage for your daughter's sake, Sakon, but 
this time he has escaped me. Well, it matters nothing, for 
soon my turn will come. Therefore, if you and he are wise, 
you will send him back to the sea, for thither alone I promise 
him safe conduct." 

Then without more words he walked to his camp, the 
gates of which were closed behind him. 

** Prince Aziel,'* said Sakon, as they went towards the 
city, ** it is ill to speak such words to an honoured guest, 
but it cannot be denied that you bring much trouble on my 
head. Twice now you have nearly perished at the hands 
of Ithobal, and should that chance, doubtless I must earn 
the wrath of Israel. On your behalf, also, the city of Zimboe 
is this day plunged into a war that well may be her last, 
since it is because you have grown suddenly so dear to her 
that my daughter has continued to refuse the suit of Ithobal^ 


and because of his outraged pride at this refusal that he has 
raised up the nations against us. Prince, while you remain 
in this city there is no hope of peace. Do not, therefore, 
hate me, your servant, if I pray of you to leave us while 
there is yet time." 

** Sakon," answered Aziel, ** I thank you for your open 
speech, and will pay you back in words as honest as your 
own. Gladly would I go, for here nothing but sorrow has 
befallen me, were it not for one thing which to you may 
seem little, but to me, and perhaps to another, is all in all. 
I love your daughter as I have never loved a woman before, 
and as my mind is to hers, so is hers to mine. How, then, 
can I go hence when the going means that I must part from 
her for ever ? " 

" How can you stay here. Prince, when the staying means 
that you must bring her to shame and death, and yourself 
with her ? Say now, arc you prepared, for the sake of this 
maiden, to abandon the worship of your fathers and to be- 
come the servant of El and Baaltis ? " 

** You know well that I am not so prepared, Sakon. For 
nothing that the world could give me would I do this sin." 

** Then, Prince, it is best that you should go, for that and 
no other is the price which you must pay if you would win 
my daughter Elissa. Should you seek to do so by other 
means, I tell you that neither your high rank nor the power 
of my rule and friendship, nor pity for your youth and hers, 
can save you both from death, since to forgive you then 
would be to bring down the wrath of its outraged gods upon 
Zimboe. Oh ! Prince, for your own sake and for the sake 
of her whom both you and I love thus dearly, linger no longer 
in temptation, but turn your back upon it as a brave man 
should, for so shall my blessing follow you to the grave and 
your years be filled with honour." 

Aziel covered his eyes with his hand, and thoOght a while ; 
then he answeried : — 

** Be it as you will, friend. I go, but I go broken-hearted.** 




Upon reaching the palace, Aziel went to the apartments of 
Issachar. Finding no keeper at the door, he entered, to 
discover the old priest kneeling in prayer at the window, 
which faced towards Jerusalem. So absorbed was he in his 
devotions that it was not until he had ended them and risen 
that Issachar saw Aziel standing in the chamber. 

** Behold, an answer to my prayer," he said. " My son, 
they told me that some fresh danger had overtaken you, 
though none knew its issue. Therefore it was that I prayed, 
and now I see you unharmed." And taking him in his arms, 
he embraced him. 

" It is true that I have been in danger, father," answered 
Aziel, and he told him the story of his escape from Ithobal. 

" Did I not pray thee not to accompany this embassy ? " 

" Yes, father, yet I have returned in safety. Listen : I 
come with tidings which you will think good. Not an hour 
ago I promised Sakon that I would leave Zimboe, where it 
seems my presence breeds much trouble." 

'* Good tidings, indeed ! " exclaimed Issachar, " and never 
shall I know a peaceful hour until we have seen the last of 
the towers of this doomed city and its accursed people of 

" Yes, good for you, father, but for me most ill, for here I 
shall leave my youth and happiness. Nay, I know what 
you think ; that this is but some passing fancy bred of the 
the pleasant beauty of a woman, but it is not so. I say 
that from the moment when first I saw Elissa, sh^ b^c^'Kv^ 


172 ELISSA. 

life of my life, and soul of my soul and that I go hence 
beggared of joy and hope, and carrying with me a cankering 
memon- which shall eat my heart away. You deem her a 
witch, one to whom Baaltis has given power to drug the 
minds of men to their destruction, but I tell you that her 
only spell is the spell of her love for me, also that she 
whom you named so grossly is no longer the servant of 
the demon Baaltis." 

** Elissa not the servant of Baaltis ? How comes she 
then to be her high-priestess ? Aziel, your passion has 
made you mad." 

" She is high-priestess because Metem and others brought 
about her election without her will, urged on to it by I know 
not whom." And he looked hard at Issachar, who turned 
away. ** But what matters it who did the ill deed," he 
continued, " since this, at least, is certain, that here my 
presence breeds sorrow and bloodshed, and therefore I must 
go as I have promised." 

** When do we depart, Prince ? " queried Issachar. 
** I know not, it is naught to me. Here comes Metem, 
ask of him." 

*' Metem," said the Levite, ** the prince desires to leave 
Zimboe and march to the coast, there to take ship to Tyre. 
When can your caravan be ready ? " 

" So I have heard, Issachar, for Sakon tells me that he has 
come to an agreement with the prince upon this matter. 
Well, I am glad to learn it, for troubles thicken here, and I 
think that the woe you prophesied is not far from this city 
of Zimboe where every man seeks to serve his own hand, 
and is ready to sell his neighbour. When can the caravan 
be got ready ? Well, the night after next ; at least, we can 
start that night. To-morrow evening, so soon as the sun is 
down, I will send on the camels by ones and twos, and with 
them the baggage and treasure, to a secret place I know of 
in the mountains, where we and the prince's guard can 
follow upon the mules and join them. As it chances, I have 


a safe conduct from Ithobal. Still I should not wish to put 
his troops into temptation by marching through them with 
twenty laden camels, or to lose certain earnings of my own 
that will be hidden in the baggage. Moreover, if our 
departure becomes known, half the city would wish to 
join us, having no love of soldiering, and misdoubting them 
much of the issue of this war with Ithobal." 

** As you will," said Issachar, ** you are captain of the 
caravan, and charged with the safety of the prince upon his 
journeyings. I am ready whenever you appoint, and the 
quicker that hour comes, the more praise you will have 
from me." 

** Come with me, I wish to speak with you," said Aziel 
to the Phoenician as they left the presence of Issachar. 
" Listen," he added, when they had reached his chamber, 
"we leave this city soon, and I have farewells to make." 

"To the Baaltis? " suggested Metem. 

" To the lady Elissa. I desire to send her a letter of 
farewell ; can you deliver it into her own hand ? " 

" It may be managed. Prince, at a price — nay, from you 
I ask no price. I have still some images that I wish to sell, 
and we merchants go everywhere, even into the presence of 
the Baaltis if it pleases her to admit them. Write your scroll 
and I will take it, though, to be plain, it is not a task which 
I should have sought." 

So Aziel wrote slowly and with care. Then having sealed 
the writing he gave it to Metem. 

" Your face is sad, Prince," he said, as he hid it in his robe, 
" but, believe me, you are doing what is right and wise." 

** It may be so," answered Aziel, " yet I would rather die 
than do it, and may my curse lie heavy upon the heads of 
those who have so wrought that it must be done. Now, I 
pray you, deliver this scroll into the hands of her you know, 
and bring me the answer if there be any, betraying it to 
none, for I will double whatever sum is offered for that 


1 74 ELISSA. 

" Have no fear, Prince/' said Metem quietly, but without 
taking offence, " this errand is undertaken for friendship, not 
for profit. The risk is mine alone ; the gain — or loss — is 

An hour later the Phoenician stood in the palace of the 
gods, demanding, under permit from Sakon, governor of the 
city, to be admitted into the presence of the Baaltis, to whom 
he desired to sell certain sacred images cunningly fashioned 
in gold. Presently it was announced that he was allowed 
to approach, and the officers of the temple led him through 
guarded passages, to the private chambers of the priestesses. 
Here he found Elissa in a long, low hall, sweet with scented 
woods, rich with gold, and supported by pillars of cedar. 

She was seated alone at the far end of this hall^ beneath 
the window-place, clad in her white robes of office, richly 
broidered with emblems of the moon. Her women, most of 
whom were employed in needle-work, though some whispered 
idly to each other, were gathered at the lower end of the hall 
near to its door. 

Metem saluted them as he entered, and they detained him, 
answering his greeting by requests for news and with jests, 
not too refined, or by demands for presents of jewels, in 
return for which they promised him the blessings of the 
goddess. To each he made some apt reply, for even the 
priestesses of Baaltis could not abash Metem. But while 
he bandied words, his quick eyes noted one of their number 
who did not join in this play. She was a spare, thin-lipped 
woman whom he knew for Mesa, the daughter of the dead 
Baaltis, who had been a rival candidate for the throne of 
the high-priestess when Elissa was chosen in her place. 

When he entered the hall Mesa was seated upon a canvas 

stool, a little apart from the others, her chin resting upon 

her hand, staring with an evil look towards the place where 

Elissa was enthroned. Nor did her face grow more gentle 

at the sight of the cunning merchant, for she knew well it 


was through his plots and bribery that she had been ousted 
from her mother's place. 

** A woman to be feared,*' thought Metem to himself, as, 
shaking off the priestesses, he passed her upon his way up 
the long chamber. Presently he had reached the head of it, 
and was saluting the presence of the Baaltis by kneeling 
and touching the carpet with his brow. 

** Rise, Metem," said Elissa, **and set out your business, 
for the hour of the sunset prayer is at hand, and I cannot 
talk long with you." 

So he rose, and, looking at her while he laid out his 
store of images, saw that her face was sad, and that her eyes 
were full of a strange fear. 

** Lady," he said, " on the second night from now I depart 
from this city of yours, and glad shall I be to leave it living. 
Therefore I have brought you these four priceless images of the 
most splendid workmanship of Tyre, thinking that it might 
please you to purchase them for the service of the goddess." 

** You depart," she whispered ; '* alone ? " 

*' No lady, not alone ; the holy Issachar goes with me, 
also the escort of the prince Aziel — and the prince himself, 
whose presence is no longer desired in Zimboe." Here he 
stopped, for he saw that Elissa was about to betray her 
agitation, and whispered, ** Be not foolish, for you are 
watched ; I have a letter for you. Lady," he continued in a 
louder voice **if it will please you to examine this precious 
image in the light, you will no longer hesitate or think the 
price too high," and bowing low he led the way behind the 
throne, whither Elissa followed him. 

Now they were standing beneath the window-place, which 
they faced, and hidden from the gaze of the women by the 
gilded back of the high seat. 

** Here," he said, thrusting the parchment into her hand, 
•* read quickly and return it to me." 

She snatched the roll from him, and as her eyes devoured 
the lines, her face fell in, and her lips grew pale with au^viv^U. 

176 ELISSA. 

** Be brave," murmured Metem, for his heart was stirred 
to pity ; ** it is best for all that he should go." 

" For him, perchance it is best," she answered ; as with an 
unwilling hand she gave him back the letter which she dared 
not keep, " but what of me ? Oh ! Metem, what of me ? " 

** Lady," he said sadly, " I have no words to soothe your 
sorrow save that the gods have willed it thus." 

** What gods ? " she asked fiercely ; " not those they bid 
me worship." She shuddered, then went on, ** Metem, be 
pitiful ! Oh ! if ever you have loved a woman, or have 
been loved of one, for her sake be pitiful. I must see him 
for the last time in farewell, and you can help me to it." 

** I ! In the name of Baal, how ? " 

** When do you leave the city, Metem ? " 

" At moonrise on the night after next." 

** Then an hour before moonrise I will be in the temple, 
whither I can come by the secret way that leads thither 
from this palace^ and he can enter there, for the little 
gate shall be left unbarred. Pray him to meet me, then — 
for the last time." 

'* Lady," he urged, ** this is but madness, and I refuse. 
You must find another messenger." 

** Madness or no it is my will, and beware how you thwart 
me in it, Metem, for at least I am the Lady Baaltis, and 
have power to kill without question. I swear to you that if 
I do not see him, you shall never leave this city living." 

"A shrewd argument, and to the point," said Metem 
reflectively. *' Well, I have prepared myself a rock-hewn 
tomb at Tyre, and do not wish that my graven sarcophagus 
of best Egyptian alabaster should be wasted, or sold to some 
upstart for a song." 

** As assuredly it will be, if you do not obey me in this 
matter, Metem. Remember — an hour before moonrise at 
the foot of the pillar of El in the inner court of the temple." 

As she spoke Metem started, for his quick ears had caught 
* sound. 


** O Queen divine," he said in a loud voice, as he led the 
way to the front of the throne, **you are a hard bargainer ! 
Were there many such, a poor trader could not make a living. 
Ah ! here is one who knows the value of such priceless works 
of art,** and he pointed to Mesa, who, with folded arms and 
downcast eyes, stood within five paces of the throne, as near, 
indeed, as custom allowed her to approach. *' Lady," he 
went on addressing her, "you will have heard the price 
I asked ; say, now, is it too much ? " 

** I have heard nothing, sir. I stand here, waiting the 
return of my holy mistress that I may remind her that the 
hour of sunset prayer is at hand." 

** Would that I had so fair a mentor," exclaimed Metem, 
"for then I should lose less time." But to himself he said, 
** She has heard something, though I think but little," then 
added aloud : " Well judge between us, lady. Is fifty golden 
shekels too much for these images which have been blessed 
and sprinkled with the blood of children by the high priest 
of Baal at Sidon ? " 

Mesa lifted her cold eyes and looked at them. " I think 
it too much," she said, " but it is for the lady Baaltis to 
judge. Who am I that I should open my lips in the presence 
of the lady Baaltis ? " 

** I have appealed to the oracle, and it has spoken against 
me," said Metem, wringing his hands in affected dismay. 
*' W^ell, I abide the result. Queen, you offered me forty 
shekels and for forty you shall take them, for the honour of 
the holy gods, though in truth I lose ten shekels by the 
bargain. Give your order to the treasurer, and he will pay 
me to-morrow. So now farewell," and bowing till his fore- 
head touched the ground, he kissed the hem of her robe. 

Elissa bent her head in acknowledgment of the salute, 
and as he rose her eyes met his. In them was written a 
warning which he could not fail to understand, and although 
she did not speak, her lips seemed to shape the word, 
•• Remember ". 

1/8 ELISSA. 

Ten minutes later Metem stood in the chamber of Aziel. 

" Has she seen the letter, and what did she answer ? " 
asked the prince, springing up almost as he passed the 

** In the name of all the gods of all the nations I pray you 
not to speak so loud," answered Metem when he had closed 
the door and looked suspiciously about him. ** Oh ! if ever 
I find myself safe in Tyre again, I vow a gift, and no mean 
one, to each of them that has a temple there, and they are 
many ; for no single god is strong enough to bring me safe 
out of this trouble. Have I seen the lady Elissa ? Oh, 
yes, I have seen her. And what think you that this innocent 
lamb, this undefiled dove of yours, threatens me with now ? 
Death ! nothing less than death, if I will not carry out her 
foolish wishes. More, she means the threat, and has the 
strength to fulfil it, for to the lady Baaltis is given power 
over the lives of men, or at the least, if she takes life none 
question the authority of the goddess. Unless I do her will 
I am a dead man, and that is the reward I get for mixing 
myself up in your mad love affairs." 

*' Hold ! " broke in Aziel, " and tell me, man, what is her 

** Her will is— what do you think ? To meet you in fare- 
well an hour before you leave this city. Well, as my throat 
is at stake, by Baal ! it shall be gratified if I can find the 
means, though I tell you that it is madness and nothing 

else. But listen to the story ** and he repeated all that 

had passed. " Now," he added, " are you ready to take the 
risk, Prince ? " 

** I should be a coward indeed if I did not," answered 
Aziel, ** when she, a woman, dares a heavier." 

*' And I am a coward, that is why I take it, for otherwise 
I also must dare a heavier. But what of Issachar ? This 
meeting can scarcely be kept a secret from him." 

Aziel thought awhile and said : — 

** Go fetch him here." So Metem went, to return presently 


with the Levite, to whom, without further ado, the prince 
told all, hiding nothing. 

Issachar listened in silence. When both Aziel and Metem 
had done speaking, he said : — 

" At least, I thank you, Prince, for being open with me ; 
and now without more words I pray you to abandon this 
rash plan, which can end only in pain, and perhaps in death." 

"Abandon it not, Prince," interrupted Metem, '* seeing 
that if you do it will certainly end in my death, for the girl 
is mad, and will have her way. Or if she does not, then 
I must pay the price." 

" Have no fear," answered Aziel smiling. " Issachar, 
this must be done or " 

•* Or what, Prince ? " 

** I will not leave the city. It is true that Sakon may 
thrust me from it, but it shall be as a dead man. Nay, 
waste no words, since she desires it ; I must and will meet 
the Lady Elissa for the last time, not as lover meets lover, 
but as those meet who part for ever in the world." 

"You say so. Prince; then have I your permission to 
accompany you ? " 

" Yes, if you wish it, Issachar; but there is danger." 

•* Danger ! What care I for danger ? The will of Heaven 
be done to me. So be it, we will go together, but the end 
of it is not with us." 




Two days had gone by, and at the appointed hour three 
figures, wrapped in dark cloaks, might have been seen 
walking swiftly towards the little entrance of the temple 
fortress. Although it was near to midnight the city was 
still astir with men, for this very evening news had reached 
it that Ithobal was advancing at the head of tens of thousands 
of the warriors of the Tribes. More, it was rumoured freely 
that within the next few days the siege of Zimboe would 
begin. Late as it was, the council had been just summoned 
to the palace of Sakon to consider the conduct of the defence, 
while in every street stood knots of men engaged in anxious 
discussion, and from many a smithy rose the sound of 
armourers at their work. Here marched parties of soldiers 
of various races, there came long strings of mules laden with 
dried flesh and grain ; yonder a woman beat her breast, and 
wept loudly because her three sons had been impressed by 
order of the council, two of them to serve as archers and the 
third to carry blocks of stone for the fortifications. 

Passing unnoticed through all this crowd and tumult, 
Aziel, Issachar and Metem entered a winding passage in 
the temple wall, and came to the little gate. Metem tried 
it, and whispered : — 

** She has kept her word ; it is unlocked. Now enter to 
your love- tryst, holy Issachar." 

** Do you not come with us ? " asked the Levite. 

** No, I am too old for such adventures. Listen, I go to 
make ready. Within an hour the mules with the prince's 


bodyguard will stand in the archway near the small gate of 
the palace, for by now the baggage and its escort await us 
a day's march from this accursed city. Will you meet me 
there ? No ; I think it is best that I should come to your 
chambers to fetch you, and, I pray you, let there be no delay, 
for it is dangerous in many ways. When once the prince 
has done with his tender interview, and wiped away his 
tears, there should be nothing to stay him, since the farewell 
cup with Sakon has been already drunk. Enter now swiftly 
before some prowling priest happens upon you, and pray 
that you may come out as sound as you go in. Oh ! what a 
sight 1 A prince of Israel and an aged Levite of established 
reputation going to keep a tryst at midnight with the high- 
priestess of Baaltis in the sanctuary of her god ! Nay, 
answer not ; there is no time " — and he was gone. 

Having passed the gate, Aziel and Issachar crept down 
the winding passages of stone, groping their path by such 
light as fell from the narrow line of sky above them, till at 
length they reached the court of the sanctuary. Here the 
place was as silent as death, for the noise from the city with- 
out could not pierce its towering walls of massive granite. 

** It is the very pit of Tophet," murmured Issachar, peering 
through the dense shadows, ** the house of Beelzebub, where 
his presence dwells. Whither now, Aziel ? " 

The prince pointed to two objects that were visible in the 
starlight, and answered : — 

** Thither, at the foot of the pillar of El." 

" Ah I I remember," said Issachar, " where the accursed 
woman would have offered sacrifice, and the priests struck 
me down because I prophesied to them of the wrath to come, 
and that is now at hand. An ill-omened spot, indeed, and 
an ill-omened tryst with the fiends for witnesses. Well, 
lead on, and I pray you to be brief as may be, for this place 
weighs down my soul, and I feel danger in it — danger to the 
body and the spirit." 

1 82 ELISSA. 

So they went forward.. "Be careful," whispered Aziel 
presently. " The pit of sacrifice is at your feet." 

** Yes, yes," he answered, ** we walk upon the edge of the 
pit, and, in truth, I grow fearful, for at the threshold of such 
places the angel of the Lord deserts us." 

'* There is nothing to fear," said Aziel. But even as he 
spoke, although he could not see it, a white face rose above 
the edge of the pit, like that of some ghost struggling from 
the tomb, watched them a moment with cold eyes, then 
disappeared again. 

Now they were near the greater pillar, and now from its 
shadow glided a black-veiled shape. 

** Elissa ? " murmured Aziel. 

** It is I," whispered a soft voice ; ** but who comes with 
you ? " 

*' I, Issachar," said the Levite, " who would not suffer that 
he of whom I am given charge should seek such company 
alone. Now, priestess, say your say with the prince yonder 
and let us be gone swiftly from this blood-stained place." 

** You speak harsh words to me, Issachar," she said gently, 
** yet I am most glad that you have come, for, believe me, I 
sought no lovers' meeting with the prince Aziel. Listen, 
both of you : you know that they have consecrated me high- 
priestess of Baaltis against my will. Now, I tell you, 
Issachar, what I have already told the prince* Aziel — that I 
am no longer a worshipper of Baaltis. Yes, here in her 
very temple I renounce her, even though she take my life in 
vengeance. Oh ! since they made me priestess I have been 
forced to learn all her worship, which before I never even 
guessed, and to see sights that would chill your blood to 
hear of them. Now I tell you, prince Aziel and Issachar, 
that I will bear no more. PVom El and Baaltis I turn to 
Him you worship, though, alas ! little time is left to me in 
which to plead for pardon." 

" Why is little time left ? " broke in Aziel. 

" Because my death is very near me. Prince, for if I live. 

THE TRYST. 1 83 

see what a fate is mine. Either I must remain high-priestess 
of Baaltis and to her day by day bow the knee, and month 
by month make sacrifice — of what think you ? Well, to be 
plain, of the blood of maids and children. Or, perhaps, 
should their fears overcome their scruples, I shall be given 
by the council as a peace-offering to Ithobal. 

" I say that I will bear neither of these burdens of blood 
or shame ; they are too heavy for me. Prince, so soon as 
you are gone I too shall leave this city, not in the body, but 
in the spirit, searching for peace or sleep. It was for this 
reason that I sought to speak with you in farewell, since in 
my weakness I desired that you should learn the truth of 
the cause and manner of my end. 

" Now you know all, and as for me there is no escape, 
farewell for ever, prince Aziel, whom I have loved, and 
whom I can scarcely hope to meet again, even beyond the 
grave." Then with a little despairing motion of her hand 
she turned to go. 

'* Stay," said Aziel hoarsely, ** we cannot be parted thus ; 
since by your own act you can dare to leave the world, will 
you not dare to fly this place with me ? " 

" Perhaps, Prince," she answered with a little laugh, " but 
would you dare to take me, and if so, would Issachar here 
suffer it ? No, no ; go your own path in life, and leave me 
death — it is the easier way." 

** In this matter I am master and not Issachar," said Aziel, 
** though it is true that should it please him, he can warn 
the priests of El. Listen, Elissa : either you leave this city 
with me, or I stay in it with you. You hear me, Issachar ? " 

*' I hear you," said the Levite, *' but perchance before you 
throw more sharp words at my head, you will suffer me to 
speak. Self-murder is a crime, yet I honour this woman 
who would shed her own blood, rather than the blood of the 
innocent in sacrifice to Baal, and who refuses to be given in 
marriage to one she hates ; who, moreover, has found 
strength and grace to trample on her devil-worship, if so in 

1 84 ELISSA. 

truth she has. If therefore she will come with us and we 
can escape with her, why, let her come. Only swear to me, 
Aziel, that you will make no wife of her till the king, your 
grandsire, has heard this tale and given judgment on it." 

*' That I will swear for him," exclaimed Elissa ; " is it 
not so, Aziel ? " 

** As you will, lady," he answered. ** Issachar, you have 
my word that until then she shall be as my sister, and no 

** I hear and I believe you," said Issachar, adding : ** And 
now, lady, we go at once, so if you desire to accompany usi 

" I am ready," she replied, ** and the hour is well chosen 
for I shall not be missed till dawn." 

So they turned and left the temple. None stayed or 
hindered them, yet although they reached the chambers of 
Aziel in safety, their hearts, which should have been light, 
were still heavy with the presage of new sorrow to come. 

Scarcely could they have been heavier, indeed, had they 
seen a white-faced woman creep from the pit of death and 
follow them stealthily till they had passed from the temple 
into the palace doors, then turn and run at full speed towards 
the college of the priests of El. 

In the chamber of Aziel they found Metem. 

** I rejoice to see you back again in safety, since it is more 
than I thought to do," he said, while they entered, adding, 
as the black-veiled shape of Elissa followed them into the 
room, ** but who is the third ? Ah ! I see, the lady Elissa. 
Does the Baaltis accompany us upon our journey ? " 

** Yes," answered Aziel shortly. 

** Then with her high Grace on the one side and the holy 
Issachar on the other it should not lack for blessings. 
Surely that evil must be great from which, separately or 
together, they are unable to defend us. But, lady, if I may 
ask it, have you bid farewell to your most honoured father ? " 

" Torment me not," murmured Elissa. 

THE TRYST. 1 85 

** Indeed, I did not wish to, though you may remember 
that not so long ago you threatened to silence me for ever. 
Well, doubtless your departure is too hurried for farewells, 
and, fortunately, foreseeing it, I have provided spare mules. 
So my deeds are kinder than my words. I go to see that 
all is prepared. Now eat before you start ; presently I will 
return for you," and he left the chamber. 

When he had gone they gathered round the table on which 
stood food, but could touch little of it ; for the hearts of all 
three of them were filled with sad forebodings. Soon they 
heard a noise as of people talking excitedly outside the 
palace gates. 

** It is Metem with the mules," said Aziel. 
** I hope so," answered Elissa. 

Again there was silence, which, after a while, was broken 
by a loud knocking at the door. 

** Rise," said Aziel, ** Metem comes for us." 
** No, no," cried Elissa, " it is Doom that knocks, not 

As the words passed her lips the door was burst open, 
and through it poured a mob of armed priests, at the head 
of whom marched the Shadid. By his side was his daughter 
Mesa, in whose pale face the eyes burned like torches in a 

** Did I not tell you so ? " she said in a shrill voice, point- 
ing at the three. " Behold the Lady Baaltis and her lover, 
and with them that priest of a false faith who called down 
curses upon our city." 

** You told us indeed, daughter," answered the Shadid ; 
"pardon us if we were loth to believe that such a thing 
could be." Then with a cry of rage he added, ** Take 

Now Aziel drew his sword, and sprang in front of Elissa 
to protect her, but before he could strike a blow it was seized 
from behind, and he was gripped by many hands, gagged, 
bound and blindfolded. Then like 9, m^n in ^ dream he felt 

1 86 


himself carried away through long passages, till at length he 
reached an airless place, where the gag and bandages were 

** Where am I ? " Aziel asked. 

" In the vaults of the temple," answered the priests as 
they left the prison, barring its great door behind them. 


chaptp:k XIII. 


How long he lay in his dungeon, lost in bitter thought and 
tormented by fears for Elissa, Aziel could not tell, for ng 
light came there to mark the passage of the hours. In the 
tumult of his mind, one terrible thought grew clear and ever 
clearer ; he and Elissa had been taken red-handed, and must 
pay the price of their sin against the religious customs of 
the city. For the Baaltis to be found with any man who 
was not her husband meant death to him and her, a doom 
from which there was little chance of escape. 

Well, to his own fate he was almost indifferent, but for Elissa 
and Issachar he mourned bitterly. Truly the Levite and 
Metem had been wise when they cautioned him, for her 
sake and his own, to have nothing to do with a priestess of 
Baal. But he had not listened ; his heart would not let him 
listen — and now, unless they were saved by a miracle — or 
Metem — in the fulness of their youth and love, the lives of 
both of them were forfeited. 

Worn out with sore fears and vain regrets Aziel fell at 
length into a heavy sleep. He was awakened by the opening 
of the door of his dungeon, and the entry of priests — grim, 
silent men who seized and blindfolded him. Then they led 
him away up many stairs, and along paths so steep that 
from time to time they paused to rest, till at length he knew, 
by the sound of voices, that he had reached some place where 
people were assembled. Here the bandage was removed 
from his eyes. He stepped backwards, recoiling involun- 
tarily at the glare of light that poured upon him from the 


l88 ELISSA. 

setting sun, whereon, uttering an exclamation, those who 
stood near seized and held him. Presently he saw the 
reason. He was standing on the brink of a precipice at 
the back of and dominating the dim and shadow-clad city, 
while far beneath him lay a gloomy rift along which ran 
the trade road to the coast. 

Here on this dizzy spot was a wide space of rock, walled 
in upon three sides. The precipice formed the fourth side 
of its square, in which, seated upon stones that seemed to 
have been set there in semi-circles to serve as judgment 
chairs, were gathered the head priests and priestesses of El 
and Baaltis, clad in their sacerdotal robes. To the right 
and left of these stood knots of favoured spectators, among 
whom Aziel recognised Metem and Sakon, while at his side, 
but separated from him by armed priests, were Elissa her- 
self, wrapped in a dark veil, and Issachar. Lastly, in front 
of hrm, a fire flickered upon a little altar, and behind the 
altar stood a shrine containing a symbolical efBgy of Baaltis 
fashioned of gold, ivory and wood to the shape of a woman 
with a hundred breasts. 

Seeing all this, Aziel understood that they three had been 
brought here for trial, and that the priests and priestesses 
before him were their judges. Indeed, he remembered that 
the place had been pointed out to him as one where those 
who had offended against the gods were carried for judg" 
ment. Thence, if found guilty, such unfortunates were hurled 
down the face of the precipice and left, a shapeless mass of 
broken bones, to crumble on the roadway at its foot. 

After a long and solemn pause, at a sign from the Shadid, 
he who had been the husband of the dead Baaltis, the veil 
was removed from Elissa. At once she turned, looked at 
Aziel, and smiled sadly. 

" Do you know the fate that waits us ? " the prince asked 
of Issachar in Hebrew. 

" I know, and I am ready," answered the old Levite, "for 
since my soul is safe I care little what these dogs may do 


to my body. But, oh ! my son, I weep for you, and cursed 
be the hour when first you saw that woman's face." 

** Spare to reproach me in my misfortune,'* murmured 
Elissa ; ** have I not enough to bear, knowing that I have 
brought death upon him I love ? Oh ! curse me not, but 
pray that my sins may be forgiven me." 

"That I will do gladly, daughter," replied Issachar more 
gently, ** the more so that, although you seem to be the 
cause of them, these things can have happened only by the 
will of Heaven. Therefore I was wrong to revile you, and 
I ask your pardon." 

Before she could answer the Shadid commanded silence. 
At the same moment the woman Mesa stepped from behind 
the effigy of the goddess on the shrine. 

** Who are you and what do you here ? " asked the Shadid, 
as though he did not know her. 

" I am Mesa, the daughter of her who was the* lady 
Baaltis," she answered, " and my rank is that of Mother of 
the priestesses of Baaltis. I appear to give true evidence 
against her, who is the anointed Baaltis, against the 
Israelitish stranger named Aziel, and the priest of the Lord 
of the Jews." 

** Lay your hand upon the altar and speak, but beware 
what you speak," said the Shadid. 

Mesa bowed her head, took the oath of truth by touching 
the altar with her fingers, and began : — 

** From the time that she was anointed I have been sus- 
picious of the lady Baaltis." 

'* Why were you suspicious ? " asked the Shadid. 

The witness let her eyes wander towards Metem, then 
hesitated. Evidently for some reason of her own she did 
not wish to implicate him. 

** I was suspicious," she answered, ** because of certain 
words that came from the lips of the Baaltis, when she 
had been thrown into the holy trance before the fire of 
sacrifice. As is my accustomed part, I bent over her to 

190 ELISSA. 

hear and to announce the message of the gods» but in place of 
the hallowed words there issued babblings about this Hebrew 
stranger and of a meeting to be held with him at one hour 
before moonrise by the pillar of El in the courtyard of the 
temple. Thereafter for several nights as was my duty I hid 
myself in the pit of offerings in the courtyard and watched. 
Last night at an hour before the moonrise the Lady Baaltis 
came disguised by the secret way and waited at the pillar, 
where presently she was joined by the Jew Aziel and the 
Levite, who spoke with her. 

** What they said I could not hear, because they were too 
far from me, but at length they left the temple and I traced 
them to the chambers of the Jew Aziel, in the palace of 
Sakon. Then, Shadid, I warned you, and the priests and 
you accompanied me and took them. Now, as Mother of 
the priestesses, I demand that justice be done upon these 
wicked ones, according to the ancient custom, lest the 
curse of Baaltis should fall upon this city." 

When she had finished her evidence, with a cold stare of 
triumphant hate at her rival. Mesa stepped to one side. 

"You have heard," said the Shadid addressing his fellow- 
judges. " Do you need further testimony ? If so, it must 
be brief, for the sun sinks." 

** Nay," answered the spokesman, ** for with you we took 
the three of them together in the chamber of the prince 
Aziel. Set out the law of this matter, O Judge, and let 
justice be done according to the strict letter of the law — 
justice without fear or favour." 

" Hearken," said the Shadid. ** Last night this woman 
Elissa, the daughter of Sakon, being the lady Baaltis duly 
elected, met men secretly in the courts of the temple and 
accompanied them, or one of them, to the chamber of Aziel, 
a prince of Israel, the guest of Sakon. Whether or no she 
was about to fly with him from the city which he should 
have left last night, we cannot tell, and it is needless to in- 
quire, at least she was with him. This, however, is sure, 


that they did not sin in ignorance of our law, since with my 
own mouth I warned them both that if the lady Baaltis 
consorts with any man not her husband duly named by her 
according to her right, she must die and her accomplice with 
her. Therefore, Aziel the Israelite, we give you to death, 
dooming you presently to be hurled from the edge of yonder 

** I am in your power," said the prince proudly, ** and you 
can murder if you will, because, forsooth, I have offended 
against some law of Baal, but I tell you, priest, that there 
are kings in Jerusalem and Egypt who will demand my blood 
at your hands. I have nothing more to say except to beseech 
you to spare the life of the lady Elissa, since the fault of 
that meeting was not hers, but mine." 

** Prince," answered the Shadid gravely, " we know your 
rank and we know also that your blood will be required at 
our hands, but we who serve our gods, whose vengeance is 
so swift and terrible, cannot betray their law for the fear of 
any earthly kings. Yet, thus says this same law, it is not 
needful that you should die since for you there is a way of 
escape that leads to safety and great honour, and she who 
was the cause of your sin is the mistress of its gate. Elissa, 
holder of the spirit of Baaltis upon earth, if it be your pleasure 
to name this man husband before us all, then as the spouse 
of Baaltis he goes free, for he whom the Baaltis chooses 
cannot refuse her gift of love, but for so long as she shall 
live must rule with her as Shadid of El. But if you name 
him not, then as I have said, he must die, and Jiow. Speak." 

** It seems that my choice is small," said Elissa with a 
faint smile. ** Praying you to pardon me for the deed, to 
save your life, prince Aziel, according to the ancient custom 
and privilege of the Baaltis, I name you consort and hus- 

Now Aziel was about to answer her when the Shadid 
broke in hurriedly, ** So be it," he said. ** Lady, we hear 
your choice, and we accept it as we must, but not yet^ ^cv5\c^ 

192 ELISSA. 

Aziel, can you take your wife and with her my place and 
power. Your life is safe indeed, for since the Baaltis, being 
unwed, names you as her mate, you have done no sin. Yet 
she has sinned and doom awaits her, for against the law she 
has chosen as husband one who worships a strange god, and 
of all crimes that is the greatest. Therefore, either you 
must take incense and before us all make offering to El and 
Baaltis upon yonder altar, thus renouncing your faith and 
entering into ours, or she must die and you, your rank 
having passed from you with her breath, will be expelled the 

Now Aziel understood the trap that had been laid for him, 
and saw in it the handiwork of Sakon and Metem. Elissa 
having flagrantly violated the religious law, and he, being 
the cause of her crime, even the authority of the governor 
of the city could not prevent his daughter and his guest 
from being put upon their trial. Therefore, they had ar- 
ranged this farce, for so it would seem to them, whereby 
both the offenders might escape the legal consequences of 
their ofifence, trusting, doubtless, to accident and the future 
to unravel this web of forced marriage, and to free Aziel 
from a priestly rank which he had not sought. It was only 
necessary that Elissa should formally choose him as her 
husband, and that Aziel should go through the rite of 
throwing a few grains of incense upon an altar^ and, the law 
satisfied, they would be both free and safe. What Metem, 
and those who worked with him, had forgotten was, that 
this offering of incense to Baal would be the most deadly of 
crimes in the eyes of any faithful Jew — one, indeed, which, 
were he alone concerned, he would die rather than commit. 

When the prince heard this decree, and the full terror of 
the choice came home to his mind, his blood turned cold, 
aiid for a while his senses were bewildered. There was no 
escape for him ; either he must abjure his faith at the price 
of his own soul, or, because of it, the woman whom he 
loved, now, before his eyes, must suffer a most horrible 


and sudden death. It was hideous to think of, and yet how 
could he do this sin in the face of heaven and of these 
ministers of Satan ? 

The moment was at hand ; a priest held out to him a 
bowl of incense, a golden bowl, he noticed idly, with handles 
of green stone fashioned in the likeness of Baaltis, whose 
servant he was asked to declare himself. He, Aziel of the 
royal house of Israel, a servant of Baal and Baaltis, nay, a 
high-priest of their worship ! It was monstrous, it might 
not be. But Elissa ? Well, she must die — if this was not 
a farce, and in truth they meant to murder her ; her life 
could not be bought at such a price. 

** I cannot do it," he gasped with dry lips, thrusting aside 
the bowl. 

Now all looked astonished, for his refusal had not been 
foreseen. There was a pause, and once more the woman 
Mesa, in her character of prosecutrix on behalf of the out- 
raged gods, appeared before the altar, and said in her cold 

*' The Jew whom the lady Baaltis has chosen as husband 
will not do homage to her gods. Therefore, as Mother of 
the priestesses and Advocate of Baaltis, I demand that 
Elissa, daughter of Sakon, be put to death, and the throne 
of Baaltis be purged of one who has defiled it, lest the swift 
and terrible vengeance of the goddess should fall upon this 

The Shadid motioned to her to be silent, and addressed 

Aziel : — 

** We pray you to think a while," he said, '* before you 
give one to death whose only sin is that, being the high- 
priestess of our worship, she has named an unbeliever to 
fill the throne of El and be her husband. Out of pity for 
her fate we give you time to think." 

Now Sakon, taking advantage of the pause, rushed forward, 
and throwing his arms about Aziel's knees, implored him in 
heart-breaking accents to preserve his only child from so 

194 ELISSA. 

horrible a doom. He said that did he refuse to save her 
because of his religious scruples, he would be a dog and a 
coward, and the scorn of all honest men for ever. It was 
for love of him that she had broken the priestly law, to 
violate which was death, and although he had been warned 
of her danger, yet in his wickedness and folly he had brought 
her to this pass. Would he then desert her now ? 

But Issachar thrust him aside, and broke in with fiery 
words : — 

** Hearken not to this man, Aziel," he said, ** who strives 
to work upon your weakness to the ruin of your soul. What ! 
To save the life of one woman, whose fair face has brought 
so much trouble upon us all, would you deny your Lord and 
become the thrall of Baal and Ashtoreth ? Ler her die 
since die she must, and keep your own heart pure, for be 
assured, should you do otherwise, Jehovah, whom you 
renounce, will swifty be avenged on you and her. At the 
beginning I warned you, and you would not listen. Now, 
Aziel, I warn you again, and woe ! woe ! woe ! to you should 
you shut your ears to my message." Then lifting his hands 
towards the skies, he began to pray aloud that Aziel might 
be constant in his trial. 

Meanwhile, Metem, who had drawn near, spoke in a low 
voice : — 

" Prince," he said, ** I am not chicken-hearted, and there 
are so many young women in the world that one more or 
less can scarcely matter; still, although she threatened to 
murder me three days ago, I cannot bear to see this one 
come to so dreadful a death. Prince, do not heed the bowl- 
ings of that old fanatic, but remember that after all you are 
the cause of this lady's plight, and play the part of a man. 
Can you for the sake of your own scruples, however worthy, 
or of your own soul even, however valuable to yourself, 
doom the fair body of a woman who risked all for you to 
such an end as that ? " And shuddering he nodded towards 
the gloomy precipice 


*' Is there no other way ? " Aziel asked him. 

" None, I swear it. They did not wish to kill her, except 
that wild-cat Mesa who seeks her place, but having put her 
on her public trial, if you persist — they must. 

** This is one of the few laws which cannot be broken for 
favour or for gold, since the people, who are already half- 
mad with fear of Ithobal, believe that to break it would 
bring the curses of heaven upon their city. Perhaps we 
might have found some other plan, but none of us even 
dreamed that you would refuse so small a thing for the sake 
of a woman whom you swore you loved." 

** A small thing ! " broke in Aziel. 

" Yes, Prince, a very small thing. Remember, this 
offering of incense is but a form to which you are forced 
against your will — you can do penance for it afterwards 
when I have arranged for both of you to escape the city. If 
your God can be angry with you for burning a pinch of dust 
to save a woman, who at the least has dared much for you, 
then give me Baal, for he is less cruel." 

Now Aziel looked towards him who held the bowl of 
incense. But Elissa who all this while had stood silent, 
stepped forward and spoke : — 

** Prince Aziel," she said in a calm and quiet voice, ** I 
named you husband to save your life, but with all my 
strength I pray of you, do not this thing to save mine, 
which is of little value and perhaps best ended. Remember, 
prince Aziel, that being what you are, a Jew, this act of 
offering, however small it seems, is yet the greatest of sins, 
and one with which you should not dare to stain your soul 
for the sake of a woman, who has chanced to love you to 
your sorrow. Be guided, therefore, by the true wisdom of 
Issachar and by my humble prayer. Make an end of your 
doubts and let me die, knowing that we do but part a while, 
since in the Gate of Death I shall wait foF you, prince 

Before Aziel could answer, the Shadid, either because his 

196 ELISSA. 

patience was outworn, or because he wished to put him to 
a sharper trial, uttered a command. ** Be it done to her as 
she desires." 

Thereon four priests seized Elissa by the wrists and 
ankles. Carrying her to the edge of the precipice, they 
thrust her back till she hung over it, her long hair streaming 
downwards, and the red light of the sunset shining upon her 
upturned ghastly face. Then they paused, waiting for the 
signal to let her go. The Shadid raised his wand and 
said : — 

** Is it your pleasure that this woman should die or live, 
prince Aziel ? Decide swiftly, for my arm is weak, and 
when the wand falls opportunity of choice will have passed 
from you." 

Now all eyes were fixed upon the wand, and the intense 
silence was broken only by Sakon's cry of despair. Metem 
wrung his hands in grief; even Issachar veiled his eyes 
with his robe, to shut out the sight of dreads and the priest, 
who bore the bowl of incense, thrust it towards Aziel im- 

For some seconds, three perhaps, though to him they 
seemed an age, the heart of Aziel was racked and torn in 
this terrific contest. Then he glanced at the agonized face 
of the doomed woman, and just as the wand began to bend, 
his human love and pity conquered. 

** May He Whom I blaspheme forgive me," he murmured, 
adding aloud, " I will do sacrifice." Taking the incense 
in his hand now he cast it into the fiames upon the altar, 
repeating mechanically after the Shadid : " By this sacrifice 
and homage, body and soul I give myself to you and worship 
you, El and Baaltis, the only true gods." 

The echo of Aziel's voice died away, and the fiimes of the 
incense rose in a straight dense column upon that quiet air. 
To his tormented mind, it seemed as though its smoke took 
the form of an avenging angel, holding in the hand a sword 

■■ I u-ill do sacrifice." 



K L 



of flame, wherewith to drive away his perjured soul from 
Heaven, as our first forefathers were driven from the shining 
gates of paradise. Yes, and they were not human, those 
spectators who, in the intense glow of the sunset, stood in 
their still ranks and stared at him with wide and eager eyes. 
Surely they were fiends red with the blood of men, fiends 
gathered from the Pit to bear everlasting witness to the 
unpardonable sin of his apostasy. 




It was clone, and from the mouths of the circle of priests 
and priestesses leapt a shrill and sudden cry of triumph. 
For had not their gods conquered ? Had not this high- 
placed servant of the hated Lord of Israel been caught 
by the bait of the beauty of a priestess of Baaltis, and 
seduced by her distress to deny and reject Him ? Was not 
evil once more triumphant, and must not they, its ministers, 
rejoice ? 

Again the Shadid raised his wand and they were silent. 

*• Brother you have, indeed, done well and wisely," he 
said, addressing Aziel. ** Now take to wife the divine lady 
who has chosen you," and he pointed to Elissa, who lay 
prostrated on the rock. ** Yes, take her and be happy in 
her love, sitting in my seat, which henceforth is yours, as 
ruler of the priests of El and master of their mysteries, 
forgetting the follies of your former faith, and spitting on 
its altars. Hail to you, Shadid, Lord of the Baaltis and 
chosen of ¥A ! Take him, you priests, and with him the 
divine lady, his wife, to bear them in triumph to their high 

** What of the Levite ? " asked the woman Mesa. 

The Shadid glanced at Issachar, who all this while had 
stood like one stricken to the soul, woe stamped upon his 
face, and a stare of horror in his eyes. "Jew,** he said, " I 
had forgotten you, but you also are on your trial, who dared 
against the law to hold secret meeting with the lady 
Baaltis. For this sin the punishment is death, nor, as I 


think, would any woman name you husband to save you. 
Still in this hour of joy we will be merciful ; therefore do as 
your master did, cast incense on the altar, uttering the 
appointed words, and go your way." 

" Before I make my offering on yonder altar according to 
your command, I have indeed some words to say, O priest 
of El," answered Issachar quietly, but in a voice that chilled 
the blood of those who listened. 

" First, I address myself to you, Aziel, and to you, woman," 
and he pointed at Elissa, who had risen, and leaned, tremb- 
ling, upon her father. " My dream is fulfilled. Aziel, you 
have sinned indeed, and must bear the appointed punishment 
of your sin. Yet hear a message of mercy spoken through 
my lips : Because you have sinned through love and pity, 
your offence is not unto death. Still shall you sorrow for it 
all your life's days, and in desolation of heart and bitterness 
of soul shall creep back to the feet of Him you have forsworn. 

** Woman, your spirit is noble and your feet are set in the 
way of righteousness, yet through you has this offence come. 
Therefore your love shall bear no fruit, nor shall the blas- 
phemy of your beloved save your flesh from doom. Upon 
this earth there is no hope for you, daughter of Sakon ; set 
your eyes beyond it, for there alone is hope. 

** Yonder she stands who swore our lives away ? " and he 
fixed his burning gaze on Mesa. " Priestess, you plotted 
this that you might succeed to the throne of Baaltis ; now 
hear your fate : You shall live to sweep the huts and bear 
the babes of savages. You, priest," and he pointed to the 
Shadid, '* I read your heart ; you design to murder this 
apostate whom you greet as your successor that you may 
usurp his place. I show you yours : it lies in the bellies of 
the jackals of the desert. 

" For you priests and priestesses of El and Baaltis, think 
of my words, and raise the loud song of triumph to your 
gods when you yourselves are their offering, and the red 
flame of the fire burns you up, all of you save your sins, 

200 ELISSA. 

which are immortal. O citizens of an- accursed city, look 
on the hill-top yonder and tell me, what do you see in the 
light of the dying day ? A sheen of spears, is it not ? 
They draw near to your hearts, you whose day is done 
indeed, citizens of an accursed city whereof the very name 
shall be forgotten, and the naked towers shall become but a 
source of wonder to men unborn. 

** And now, O priest, having said my say, as you bid me, 
I make my offering upon your altar." 

Then^ while all stood fearful and amazed, Issachar the 
Levite sprang forward, and seizing the ancient image of 
Baaltis, he spat upon it and dashed the priceless consecrated 
thing down upon the altar, where it broke into fragments, 
and was burned with the Bre. 

** My offering is made," he said ; " may He whom I serve 
accept it. Now after the offering comes the sacrifice ; son 
Aziel, fare you well." 

For a few moments a silence of horror and dismay fell 
upon the assembly as they gazed at the shattered and 
burning fragments of their holy image. Then moved 
by a common impulse, with curses and yells of fury, the 
priests and priestesses sprang from their seats and hurled 
themselves upon Issachar, who stood awaiting them with 
folded arms. They smote him with their ivory rods, 
they rent and tore him with their hands and teeth, 
worrying him as dogs worry a fox of the hills, till at 
length the life was beaten and trampled out of him and he 
lay dead. 

Thus terribly, but yet by such a death of martyrdom as 
he would have chosen, perished Issachar the Levite. 

Unarmed though he was, Aziel had sprung to his aid, but 
Metem and Sakon, knowing that he would but bring about 
his own destruction, flung themselves upon him and held 
him back. Whilst he was still struggling with them the end 
came, and Issachar grew still for ever. Then, as the sun 


sank and the darkness fell, Aziel's strength left him, and 
presently he slipped to the ground senseless. 

Thereafter it seemed to Aziel that he was plunged in an 
endless and dreadful dream, and that through its turmoil and 
shifting visions, he could see continually the dreadful death 
of Issachar, and hear his stern accents prophesying woe 
to him who renounces the God of his forefathers to bow the 
knee to Baal. 

At length he awoke from that horror-haunted sleep to find 
himself lying in a strange chamber. It was night, and lamps 
burned in the chamber, and by their light he saw a man 
whose face he knew mixing a draught in a glass phial. So 
weak was he that at first he could not remember the man's 
name, then by slow degrees it came to him. 

" Metem," he said, *' where am I ? " 

The Phoenician looked up from his task, smiled, and 
answered : — 

** Where you should be, Prince, in your own house, the 
palace of the Shadid. But you must not speak, for you have 
been ill ; drink this and sleep." 

Aziel swallowed the draught and was instantly overcome 
by slumber. When he awoke the sun was shining brightly 
through the window place, and its rays fell upon the shrewd, 
kindly face of Metem, who, seated on a stool, watched him, 
his chin resting in his hand. 

" Tell me all that has befallen, friend," said Aziel presently, 
" since " and he shuddered. 

** Since you were married after a new fashion and that 
bigoted but most honourable fool, Issachar, went to his 
reward. Well, I will when you have eaten," answered 
Metem as he gave him food. ** First," he said, after a while, 
"you have lain here for three days raving in a fever, nursed 
by myself and visited by your wife the lady Baaltis, when- 
ever she could escape from her religious duties " 

** Elissa ! Has she been here ? " asked Aziel. 


202 ELISSA. 

** Calm yourself, Prince, certainly she has, and, what is 
more, she will be back soon. Secondly : Ithobal has been 
as good as his word, and invests the city with a vast army, 
cutting off all supplies and possibilities of escape. It is 
believed that he will try an assault within the next week, 
which many think may be successful. Thirdly : to avoid 
this risk it is rumoured that the priests and priestesses, at 
the instance of the council, are discussing the wisdom of 
giving over to the king the person of the daughter of Sakon. 
This, it is said, could be done on the plea that her election 
as the lady Baaltis was brought about with bribery, and is, 
therefore, void, as she was not chosen by the pure and un- 
assisted will of the goddess." 

" But," said Aziel, ** she is my wife according to their 
religious law ; how then can she be given in marriage to 
another ? *' 

** Nay, Prince, if she is not the lady Baaltis your husband- 
ship falls to the ground with the rest, for you are not the 
Shadid, an office with which perchance you can dispense. 
But all this priestly juggling means little, the truth being 
that the city in its terror is ready to throw her — or for the 
matter of that, Baaltis herself if they could lay hands on her 
— as a sop to Ithobal, hoping thereby to appease his rage. 
The lady Elissa knows her danger — but here she comes to 
speak for herself." 

As he spoke the curtains at the end of the chamber were 
drawn, and through them came Elissa, clad in her splendid 
robes of office and wearing upon her brow the golden crescent 
of the moon. 

'* How goes it with the prince, Metem ? " she asked in 
her soft voice, glancmg anxiously towards the couch which 
was half-hidden in the shadow of the wall. 

** Look for yourself, lady," answered the Phoenician bowing 
before her. 

** Elissa, Elissa ! " cried Aziel, raising himself and opening 
his arms. 


She saw and heard, then, with a low cry, she ran swiftly 
to him and was wrapped in his embrace. Thus they stayed 
a while, murmuring words of love and greeting. 

" Is it your pleasure that I should leave you ? " asked 
Metem presently. " No ? Then, Prince, I would have 
you remember that you are still very weak and should not 
give way to violent emotions," 

" Listen, Aziel," said Elissa, untwining his arms from 
about her neck, ** there is no time for tenderness ; moreover, 
you should show none to one who, in name at least, is still 
the high-priestess of Baaltis, although in truth she worships 
her no longer. It was noble of you indeed to offer incense 
upon the altar of El that my life might be saved. But when 
I prayed you not, I spoke from the heart, and bitterly, bitterly 
do I grieve that for my sake you should have stained your 
hands with such a sin. Moreover, it will avail nothing, for 
the doom of the prophet Issachar lies upon us, and I cannot 
escape from death, neither can you escape remorse, and as 
I think, that worst of all desires — the desire for the dead." 

** Can we not still flee the city ? " asked Aziel. 

'* Metem will tell you that it is impossible ; day and night 
I am watched and guarded, yes, Mesa dogs me from door 
to door. Also Ithobal holds Zimboe so firmly in his net 
that no sparrow could fly out of it and he not know. And 
there is worse to tell : Beloved, they purpose to give me up 
as a peace-offering to Ithobal. Yes, even my father is of 
the plot, for in his despair he thinks it his duty to sacrifice 
his daughter to save the town, if, indeed, that will suffice to 
save us." 

" But you are the Baaltis and inviolate." 

** In such a time the goddess herself would not be held 
inviolate in Zimboe, much less her priestess, Aziel. I have 
discovered that this very night they have laid their plans to 
seize me. Mesa and others have been chosen for the deed, 
and afterwards they think to offer me as a bribe to Ithobal, 
who will take no other price." 

204 ELISSA. 

Aziel groaned aloud : " It were better that we should die," 
he said. 

She nodded and answered : " It were better that / should 
die. But hear me» for I also have a plan, and there is still 
hope, though very little. Perhaps, as you drew near to 
Zimboe by the coast road, you may have noted three miles 
or more from the gates of the city, and almost overhanging 
the path on which you travelled, a shoulder of the mountain 
where the rock is cut away, showing the narrow entrance to 
a cave closed with a gate of bronze ? " 

" I saw it," answered Aziel, **and was told that there was 
the most sacred burying-place of the city." 

" It is the tomb of the high-priestesses of Baaltis," went 
on Elissa, '^ and this day at sunset I must visit it to lay an 
ofifering upon the shrine of her who was the Baaltis before 
me, entering alone, and closing the gate, for it is not lawful 
that any one should pass in there with me. Now, the plan 
is to lay hands on me as I go back from the tomb to the 
palace — but I shall not go back. Aziel, I shall stay in the 
tomb — nay, do not fear — not dead. I have hidden food and 
water there, enough for many days, and there with the 
departed I shall live — till I am of their number." 

** But if so, how can it help you, Elissa, for they will break 
in the gates of the place, and drag you away ? " 

*' Then, Aziel, they will drag away a corpse, and that they 
will scarcely care to present to Ithobal. See, I have hidden 
poison in my breast, and here at my girdle hangs a dagger ; 
are not the two of them enough to make an end of one frail 
life ? Should they dare to touch me, I shall tell them 
through the bars that most certainly I shall drink the bane, 
or use the knife ; and when they know it, they will leave me 
unharmed, hoping to starve me out, or trusting to chance 
to snare me living." 

*' You are bold," murmured Aziel in admiration, " but 
self-murder is a sin." 

'^ It is a sin that I will dare, beloved, as in past days 


I would have dared it for less cause, rather than be given 
alive into the hands of Ithobal ; for to whoever else I may be 
false, to you through life and death I will be true." 

Now Aziel groaned in his doubt and bitterness of heart ; 
then turning to Metem, he asked : — 

** Have you anything to say, Metem ? " 

" Yes, Prince, two things," answered the Phoenician. 
'' First, that the lady Elissa is rash, indeed, to speak so 
openly before me who might carry her words to the council 
or the priests." 

" Nay, Metem, I am not rash, for I know that, although 
you love money, you will not betray me." 

" You are right, lady, I shall not, for money would be of 
little service to me in a city that is about to be taken by 
storm. Also I hate Ithobal, who threatened my life — as you 
did also, by the way — and will do my best to keep you from 
his clutches. Now for my second point : it is that I can 
see little use in all this because Ithobal, being defrauded of 
you, will attack, and then " 

** And then he may be beaten, Metem, for the citizens will 
at any rate fight for their lives, and the Prince Aziel here, 
who is a general skilled in war, will fight also if he has 
recovered strength " 

•* Do not fear, Elissa ; give me two days, and I will fight 
to the death," said Aziel. 

**At the least," she went on, "this scheme gives us 
breathing time, and who knows but that fortune will turn. 
Or if it does not, since it is impossible for me to escape 
from the city, I have no better." 

" No more have I," said Metem, " for at length the oldest 
fox comes to his last double. I could escape from this city, 
or the prince might escape, or the lady Elissa even might 
possibly escape disguised, but I am sure that all three of us 
could not escape, seeing that within the walls we are watched 
and without them the armies of Ithobal await us. Oh ! 
prince Aziel, I should have done well to go, as I might K^lm^. 


206 ELISSA. 

gone when you and Issachar were taken after that mad 
meeting in the temple, from which I never looked for any- 
thing but ill ; but I grow foolish in my old age, and thought 
that I should like to see the last of you. Well, so far we 
are all alive, except Issachar, who, although bigoted, was 
still the most worthy of us, but how long we shall remain 
alive I cannot say. 

" Now our best chance is to defeat Ithobal if we can, and 
afterwards in the confusion to fly from Zimboe and join our 
servants, to whom I have sent word to await us in a secret 
place beyond the first range of hills. If we cannot -^why 
then we must go a little sooner than we expected to find 
out who it is that really shapes the destinies of men, and 
whether or no the sun and moon are the chariots of El and 
Baaltis. But, Prince, you turn pale." 

"It is nothing," said Aziel, *' bring me some water, the 
fever still burns in me." 

Metem went to seek for water, while Elissa knelt by the 
couch and pressed her lover's hand. 

** I dare stay no longer," she whispered, ** and Aziel, 
I know not how or when we shall meet again, but my heart 
is heavy, for, alas ! I think that doom draws near me. I 
have brought much sorrow on you, Aziel, and yet more upon 
myself, and I have given you nothing, except that most 
common of all things, a woman's love." 

** That most perfect of all things," he answered, ** which 
I am glad to have lived to win." 

" Yes, but not at the price that you have paid for it. I 
know well what it must have cost you to cast that incense 
on the flame, and I pray to your God, who has become my 
God, to visit the sin of it on my head and to leave yours 
unharmed. Aziel, Aziel ! woman or spirit, while I have life 
and memory, I am yours, and yours only ; clean-handed I 
leave you, and if we may meet again in this or in any other 
world, clean and faithful I shall come to you again. Glad 
am I to have lived, because in my life I have known you and 



you have sworn you love me. Glad shall I be to live again if 
again I may know you and hear that oath — if not, it is sleep 
I seek; for life without you to me would be a hell. You 
grow weak, and I must go. Farewell, and living or dead, 
forget me not ; swear that you will not forget me." 

"I swear it," he answered faintly; **and Heaven grant 
that I may die for you, not you for me." 

" That is no prayer of mine," she whispered ; and, bending, 
kissed him on the brow, for he was too weak to lift his lips 
to hers. 

Then she was gone. 




Two more hours had passed, and in the evening light a pro- 
cession of priestesses might be seen advancing slowly towards 
the holy tomb along a narrow road of rock cut in the mountain 
face. In front of this procession, wearing a black veil over 
her broidered robes, walked Elissa with downcast eyes and 
hair unbound in token of grief, while behind her came Mesa 
and other priestesses bearing in bowls of alabaster the 
offerings to the dead, food and wine, and lamps of oil, and 
vases filled with perfumes. Behind these again marched 
the mourners, women who sang a funeral dirge and from 
time to time broke into a wail of simulated grief. Nor, 
indeed, was their woe as hollow as might be thought, since 
from that mountain path they could see the outposts of the 
army of Ithobal upon the plain, and note with a shudder 
of fear the spear-heads of his countless thousands shining 
in the gorges of the opposing heights. It was not for the 
dead Baaltis that they mourned this day, but for the fate 
which overshadowed them and their city of gold. 

** May the curse of all the gods fall on her," muttered 
one of the priestesses as she toiled forward beneath her load 
of offerings ; '* because she is beautiful and pettish, we must 
be put to the spear, or become the wives of savages,** and 
she pointed with her chin to Elissa, who walked in front, 
lost in her own thoughts. 

** Have patience," answered Mesa at her side, *' you know 
the plan — to-night that proud girl and false priestess shall 
sleep in the camp of Ithobal." 


" Will he be satisfied with that," asked the woman, " and 
leave the city in peace ? " 

"They say so," answered Mesa with a laugh, "though it 
is strange that a king should exchange spoil and glory for 
one round-eyed, thin-limbed girl who loves his rival. Well, 
let us thank the gods that made men foolish, and gave us 
women wit to profit by their folly. If he wants her, let him 
take her, for few will be poorer by her loss." 

"You at least will be richer," said the other woman, "and 
by the crown of Baaltis. Well, I do not grudge it you, and 
as for the daughter of Sakon, she shall be Ithobal's if I take 
her to him limb by limb." 

" Nay, sister, that is not the bargain ; remember she must 
be delivered to him without hurt or blemish ; otherwise we 
shall do sacrilege in vain. Be silent, here is the cave." 

Reaching the platform in front of the tomb, the procession 
of mourners ranged themselves about it in a semi-circle. 
They stood with their backs to the edge of a cliff that rose 
sheer for sixty feet or more from the plain beneath, across 
which, but at a little distance from the foot of the precipice 
ran the road followed by the caravans of merchants in 
their journeys to and from the coast. Then, a hymn having 
been sung invoking the blessing of the gods on the dead 
priestess, Elissa, as the Baaltis, unlocked the gates of 
bronze with a golden key that hung at her girdle, and the 
bearers of the bowls of offerings pushed them into the 
mouth of the tomb, whose threshold they were not allowed 
to pass. Next, with bowed heads and hands crossed upon 
her breast, Elissa entered the tomb, and locking the bronze 
gate behind her, took up two of the bowls and vanished with 
them into its gloomy depths. 

" Why did she lock the gates ? " asked a priestess of Mesa. 
" It is not customary." 

" Doubtless because it was her pleasure so to do," answered 
Mesa sharply, though she also wondered why Elissa had 
locked the gate. 

210 ELISSA. 

When an hour was gone by and Elissa had not returned, 
her wonder turned to fear and doubt. 

** Call to the lady Baaltis," she said, " for her prayers 
are long, and I fear lest she should have come to harm." 

So they called, setting their lips against the bars of the 
gate till presently Elissa, holding a lamp in her hand, came 
and stood before them. 

" Why do you disturb me in the sanctuary ? " she asked. 

" Lady, because they set the night watch on the walls,'* 
answered Mesa, ** and it is time to return to the temple." 

" Return then," said Elissa, " and leave me in peace. 
What, you cannot, Mesa ? Nay, and shall I tell you why ? 
Because you had plotted to deliver me this night to those 
who should lead me as a peace-offering to Ithobal, and when 
you come to them empty-handed they will greet you with 
hard words. Nay, do not trouble to deny it. Mesa. I also 
have my spies, and know all the plan ; and, therefore, I have 
taken sanctuary in this holy place." 

Now Mesa pressed her thin lips together and answered : — 

** Those who dare to lay hands upon the person of the 
living Baaltis will not shrink from seeking her in the 
company of her dead sisters." 

** I know it, Mesa ; but the gates are barred, and here I 
have food and drink in plenty." 

** Gates, however strong, can be broken," answered the 
priestess, ** so, lady, do not wait till you are dragged hence 
like some discovered slave." 

"Ay," replied Elissa with a little laugh, **but what if 
rather than be thus dishonoured, I should choose to break 
another gate, that of my own life ? Look, traitress, here is 
poison and here is bronze, and I swear to you that should 
any lay a hand upon me, by one or other of them I will die 
before their eyes. Then, if you will, bear these bones to 
Ithobal and take his thanks for them. Now, begone, and 
give this message to my father and to all those who have 
plotted with him, that since they cannot bribe Ithobal with 


my beauty, they will do well to be men, and to fight him 
with their swords." 

Then she turned and left them, vanishing into the dark- 
ness of the tomb 

Great indeed was the dismay of the councillors of Zimboe 
and of the priests who had plotted with them when, an hour 
later, Mesa came, not to deliver Elissa into their hands, 
but to repeat to them her threats and message. In vain 
did they appeal to Sakon, who only shook his head and 
answered: — 

** Of this I am sure, that what my daughter has threatened 
that she will certainly do if you force her to the choice. But 
if you will not believe me, go ask her and satisfy yourselves. 
I know well what she will answer you, and I hold that this 
is a judgment upon us, who first made her Baaltis against 
her will, then threatened her with death because of the 
prince Aziel, and now would do sacrilege to her sacred 
office and violence to herself by tearing her from her con- 
secrated throne, breaking her bond of marriage and delivering 
her to Ithobal." 

So the leaders of the councillors visited the holy tomb 
and reasoned with Elissa through the bars. But they got 
no comfort from her, for she spoke to them with the phial 
of poison in her bosom and the naked dagger in her hand, 
telling them what she had told Mesa — that they had best 
give up their plottings and fight Ithobal like men, seeing 
that even if she surrendered herself to him, when he grew 
weary of her the war must come at last. 

'* For a hundred years," she added, *' this storm has 
gathered, and now it must burst. When it has rolled away 
it will* be known who is master of the land — the ancient city 
of Zimboe, or Ithobal king of the Tribes." 

So they went back as they had come, and next day at the 
dawn, with a bold face but heavy hearts, received the 
messengers of king Ithobal, and told them their tale. The 
messengers heard and laughed. 

212 ELISSA. 

" We are glad," they answered, ** since we, who are not in 
love with the daughter of Sakon, desire war and not peace, 
holding as we do that the time has come when you upstart 
white men — you outlanders — who have usurped our country 
to suck away its wealth should be set beneath our heel. 
Nor do we think that the task will be difficult for surely 
we have little to fear from a city of low money seekers whose 
councillors cannot even conquer the will of a single maid." 

Then in their despair the elders oft'ered other girls to 
Ithobal in marriage, as many as he would, and with them 
a great bribe in money. But the envoys took their leave, 
saying that nothing would avail since they preferred spear- 
thrusts to gold, for which they had little use, and Ithobal, 
their king, had fixed his fancy on one woman alone. 

So with a heavy and foreboding heart, the city of Zimboe 
prepared itself to resist attack, for as they had guessed, when 
he learned all, the rage of Ithobal was great. Nor would he 
listen to any terms that they could offer save one which they 
had no power to grant — that Elissa should be delivered un- 
harmed into his hands. Councils of war were held, and 
to these, so soon as he was sufficiently recovered from his 
sickness, the prince Aziel was bidden, for he was known 
to be a skilled captain ; therefore, though he had been the 
cause of much of their trouble, they sought his aid. Also, 
should the struggle be prolonged they hoped through him 
to win Israel, and perhaps Egypt, to their cause. 

Aziel's counsel was that they should sally out against the 
army of Ithobal by night, since he expected to attack and 
not to be attacked, but to that advice they would not listen, 
for they trusted to their walls. Indeed, in this Metem sup- 
ported them, and when the prince argued with him, he 
answered : — 

"Your tactics would be good enough, Prince, if you had 
at your back the lions of Judah, or the wild Arab horsemen 
of the desert. But here you must deal with men of my own 
breed, and we Phoenicians are traders, not fighting men. 


Like rats, we fight only when there is no other chance for 
our lives ; nor do we strike the first blow. It is true that 
there are some good soldiers in the city, but they are foreign 
mercenaries ; and as for the rest, half-breeds and freed slaves, 
they belong as much to Ithobal as to Sakon, and are not to 
be trusted. No, no ; let us stay behind our walls, for they 
at least were built when men were honest and will not 
betray us." 

Now in Zimboe were three lines of defence ; first, that of 
a single wall built about the huts of the slaves upon the 
plain, then that of a double wall of stone with a ditch 
between thrown round the Phoenician city, and lastly, the 
great fortress-temple and the rocky heights above. These, 
guarded as they were by many strongholds within whose circle 
the cattle were herded, as it was thought/could only be taken 
with the sword of hunger. 

At last the storm burst, for on the fifth morning after 
Elissa had barred herself within the tomb, Ithobal attacked 
the native town. Uttering their wild battle-cries, tens of 
thousands of his savage warriors, armed with great spears 
and shields of ox-hide, and wearing crests of plumes upon 
their heads, charged down upon the outer wall. Twice they 
were driven back, but the work was in bad repair and too 
long to defend, so that at the third rush they flowed over it 
like lines of marching ants, driving its defenders before them 
to the inner gates. In this battle some were killed, but the 
most of the slaves threw down their arms and went over to 
Ithobal, who spared them, together with their wives and 

Through all the night that followed, the generals of 
Zimboe made ready for the onslaught which must come. 
Everywhere within the circuit of the inner wall troops were 
stationed, while the double southern gateway, where prince 
Aziel was the captain in command, was built up with loose 
blocks of stone. 

214 ELISSA. 

A while before the dawn, just as the eastern sky grew 
grey, Aziel, watching from his post above the gate of the 
wall, heard the fierce war-song of the Tribes swell suddenly 
from fifty thousand throats and the measured tramp of their 
innumerable feet. Then the day broke, and he saw them 
advancing in three armies towards the three points chosen 
for attack, the largest of the armies, headed by Ithobal the 
king, directing its march upon the walled gate of which he 
was in command. 

It was a wondrous and a fearful sight, that of these hordes 
of plumed warriors, their broad spears flashing in the sun- 
rise, and their fierce faces alight with hereditary hate and the 
lust of slaughter. Never had Aziel seen such a spectacle, 
nor could he look upon it without dreading the issue of the 
war, for if they were savages, these foes were brave as the 
lions of their own plains, and had sworn by the head of 
their king to drag down the sheltering walls of Zimboe with 
their naked hands, or die to the last man. 

Turning his head with a sigh of doubt, Aziel found Metem 
standing at his side. 

** Have you seen her ? " he asked eagerly. 

** No, Prince. How could I see her at night when she sits 
in a tomb like a fox in his burrow ? But I have heard her." 

" What did she say ? Quick, man, tell me." 

** But little. Prince, for the tomb is watched and I dared 
not stay there long. She sent you her greetings and would 
have you know that her heart will be with you in the battle, 
and her prayers beseech the throne of Heaven for your 
safety. Also she said that she is well, though it is lone- 
some there in the grave among the bodies of the dead 
priestesses of Baaltis whose spirits, as she vows, haunt her 
dreams, reviling her because she desecrates their sepulchre 
and has renounced their god." 

"Lonesome, indeed," said Aziel with a shudder; "but 
tell me, Metem, had she no other word ? " 

" Yes, Prince, but not of good omen, for now as always 


she is sure that her doom is at hand, and that you two will 
meet no more. Still she bade me tell you that all your life 
long her spirit shall companion you though it be unseen, 
to receive you at the last on the threshold of the under- 

Aziel turned his head away, and said presently : — 

" If that be so, may it receive me soon." 

** Have no fear, Prince," replied Metem with a grim 
laugh^ ** look yonder," and he pointed to the advancing 

** These walls are strong and we shall beat them back," 
said Aziel. 

** Nay, Prince, for strong walls do not avail without 
strong hearts to guard them, and those of the womanish 
citizens of Zimboe and their hired soldiers are white with 
fear. I tell you that the prophecies of Issachar the Levite, 
made yonder in the temple on the day of sacrifice, and 
again in the hour of his death, have taken hold of the 
people, and by eating out their valour, fulfil themselves. 

** Men hint at them, the women whisper them in closets, 
and the very children cry them in the streets. 

'* More — one man last night pointed to the skies and 
shrieked that in them he saw that fiery swcjrd of doom of 
which the prophet spoke hanging point do^^nwa^ds above 
the city, whereon all present vowed they saw it too, though, 
as I think, it was but a cross of stars. Another tells how 
that he met the very spirit of Issachar stalking through the 
market-place, and that peering into the eyes of the wraith, as 
in a mirror, he saw a great flame wrapping the temple walls, 
and by the light of it his own dead body. This man was 
the priest who first struck down the holy Levite yonder in 
the place of judgment. 

" Again, when the lady Mesa did sacrifice last night on 
behalf of the Baaltis who has fled, the child they offered, an 
infant of six months, stirred on the altar after it was dead 
and cried with a loud voice that before three suns had set, 




its blood should be required at their hands. That is the 
story, and if I do not believe it, this at least is true, that the 
priestesses fled fast from the secret chamber of death, for I 
met them as they ran shrieking in their terror and tearing 
at their robes. But what need is there to dwell on omens, 
true or false, when cowards man the walls, and the spears of 
Ithobal shine yonder like all the stars of heaven ? Prince, I 
tell you that this ancient city is doomed, and in it, as I fear, 
we must end our wanderings upon earth." 

" So be it, if it must be," answered Aziel, " at the least I 
will die fighting." 

" And I also will die fighting. Prince, not because I love 
it, but because it is better than being butchered in cold blood 
by a savage with a spear. Oh ! why did you ever chance to 
stumble upon the lady Elissa making her prayer to Baaltis, 
and what evil spirit was it which filled your brains with this 
sudden madness of love towards each other ? That was the 
beginning of the trouble, which, but for those eyes of hers, 
would have held off long enough to see us safe at Tyre, 
though doubtless soon or late it must have come. But see, 
yonder marches Ithobal at the head of his guard. Give me 
a bow, the flight is long, but perchance I can reach his black 
heart with an arrow." 

" Save your strength," answered Aziel, "the range is too 
great, and presently you will have enough of shooting," and 
he turned to talk to the officers of the guard. 




An hour later the attack commenced at chosen points of 
the double wall, one of them being the southern gate. In 
front of the advancing columns of savages were driven vast 
numbers of slaves, many of whom had been captured, or had 
surrendered in the outer town. These men were laden with 
faggots to fill the ditch, rude ladders wherewith to scale the 
walls, and heavy trunks of trees to be used in breaching 
them. For the most part, they were unarmed, and protected 
only by their burdens, which they held before them as shields, 
and by the arrows of the warriors of Ithobal. But these did 
little harm to the defenders, who were hidden behind the 
walls, whereas the shafts of the garrison, rained on them 
from above, killed or wounded the slaves by scores, who, 
poor creatures, when they turned to fly, were driven onward 
by the spear-points of the savages, to be slain in heaps like 
g^me in a pitfall. Still, some of them lived, and running 
under the shelter of the wall, began to breach it with the 
rude battering rams, and to raise the scaling ladders till 
death found them, or they were worn out with excitement, 
fear and labour. 

Then the real attack began. With fierce yells, the three- 
fold column rushed at the wall, and began to work the rams 
and scale the ladders, while the defenders above showered 
spears and arrows upon them, or crushed them with heavy 
stones, or poured upon their heads boiling pitch and water, 
heated in great cauldrons which stood at hand. 

Time after time they were driven back with heavy Vo^^\ 

2l8 ELISSA. 

and, time upon time, fresh hordes of them advanced to the 
onslaught. Thrice, at the south gate, were the ladders 
raised, and thrice the stormers appeared above the level of 
the wall, to be hurled back, crushed and bleeding, to the 
earth beneath. 

Thus the long day wore on and still the defenders held 
their own. 

** We shall win," shouted Aziel to Metem, as a fresh 
ladder was cast down with its weight of men to the death- 
strewn plain. 

** Yes, here we shall win because we fight," answered the 
Phoenician, *' but elsewhere it may be otherwise." Indeed 
for a while the attack upon the south gate slackened. 

Another hour passed and presently to the left of them 
rose a wild yell of triumph, and with it a shout of " Fly to 
the second wall. The foe is in the fosse 1 " 

Metem looked and there, down the great ditch, 300 paces 
to their left, a flood of savages poured towards them. 
** Come," he said, ** the outer wall is lost." But as he s{X)ke 
once more the ladders rose against the gates and flanking 
towers and once more Aziel sprang to cast them down. 
When the deed was done, he looked behind him to find that 
he was *cut off" and surrounded. Metem and most of his 
men indeed had gained the inner wall in safety, while he 
with twelve only of his bravest soldiers, Jews of his own 
following, who had stayed to help him to throw back the 
ladders, were left upon the gateway tower. Nor was escape 
any longer possible, for both the plain without and the fosse 
within were filled with the men of Ithobal who advanced 
also by hundreds down the broad coping of the captured 

" Now there is but one thing that we can do,*' said Aziel ; 
** fight bravely till we are slain." 

As he spoke a javelin cast from the wall beneath struck 
him upon the breastplate, and though the bronze turned the 
iron point, it brought him to his knees. When he found 


his feet again, he heard a voice calling him by name, and 
looking down, saw Ithobal clad in golden harness and 
surrounded by his captains. 

** You cannot escape, prince Aziel," cried the king; 
" yield now to my mercy." 

Aziel heard, and setting an arrow to his bow, loosed it at 
Ithobal beneath. He was a strong and skilful archer, and 
the heavy shaft pierced the golden helmet of the king, 
cutting his scalp down to the bone. 

"That is my answer," cried Aziel, as Ithobal rolled upon 
the ground beneath the shock of the blow. But very soon 
the king was up and crying his commands from behind the 
shield-hedge of his captains. 

** Let the prince Aziel, and the Jews with him, be taken 
alive and brought to me,'* he shouted. ** I will give a great 
reward in cattle to those who capture them unharmed ; but 
if any do them hurt, they themselves shall be put to 

The captains bowed and issued their orders, and presently 
Aziel and his companions saw lines of unarmed men creeping 
up ladders set at every side of the lofty tower. Again and 
again they cast off the ladders, till at length, being so few, 
they could stir them no more because of the weight upon 
them, but must hack at the heads of the stormers as they 
appeared above the parapet, killing them one by one. 

In this fashion they slew many, but their arms grew 
weary at last, and ever under the eye of their king, the brave 
savages crept upward, heedless of death, till, with a shout, 
they poured over the battlements and rushed at the little 
band of Jews. 

Now rather than be taken, Aziel sought to throw himself 
from the tower, but his companions held him, and thus at 
last it came about that he was seized and bound. 

As they dragged him to the stairway he looked across the 
fosse and saw the mercenaries flying from the inner wall, 
although it was still unbreached, and saw the citizens of 

220 ELISSA. 

Zimboe streaming by thousands to the narrow gateway of 
the temple fortress. 

Then Aziel groaned in his heart and struggled no more, 
for he knew that the fate of the ancient town was sealed, 
and that the prophecy of Issachar would be fulfilled. 

A while later Aziel and those with him, their hands bound 
behind their backs, were led by hide ropes tied about their 
necks through the army of the Tribes that jeered and spat 
upon them as they passed, to a tent of sewn hides on the 
plain, above which floated the banner of Ithobal. Into this 
tent the prince was thrust alone, and there forced upon his 
knees by the soldiers who held him. Before him upon a 
couch covered with a lion skin lay the great shape of Ithobal, 
while physicians washed his wounded scalp. 

** Greeting, son of Israel and Pharaoh," he said in a 
mocking voice ; ** truly you are wise thus to do homage to 
the king of the world." 

** A poor jest," answered Aziel, glancing at those who held 
him down ; " true homage is of the heart, king Ithobal." 

** I know it, Jew, and this also you shall give me when 
you are humbler. Who taught you the use of the bow ? 
You shoot well," and he pointed to his blood-stained helm, 
which was still transfixed by the arrow. 

** Nay," answered Aziel, ** I shot but ill, for my arm was 
weary. When next I draw a string against your breast, king 
Ithobal, I promise you a straighter shaft." 

** Well said," answered the king with a laugh, ** but know, 
dog of a Jew, that now it is my turn to draw the string — 
how, I will show you afterwards. Have they told you that 
the city has fallen, and that my captains hold the gates, 
while the cowards of Zimboe are penned like sheep within 
the temple and on the cliflf-edged height above ? They have 
fled hither for safety, but I tell you that they would be more 
safe on yonder plain, for I have the key of their stronghold, 
a certain passage leading from the palace of the Baaltis to 


the temple ; you know of it, I think. Yes, and if I had not, 
very soon hunger and thirst would work for me. 

** Well, Jew, I have won, and with less trouble than I 
thought, and now I hold the great city in hostage, to save 
or to destroy as it shall please me, though that arrow of 
yours went near to robbing me of my crown of victory." 

** So be it," answered Aziel, indifferently ; ** I have played 
my part, now things must go as Fate may will." 

** Yes, Jew, you fought well till they deserted you, and the 
doom of cowards is little to a brave man. But what of the 
lady Elissa ? Nay, I know all ; she has taken refuge in 
the tomb of Baaltis, has she not, with poison in her bosom 
and bronze at her girdle to be used against her own life, 
should they lay hands on her or give her to me ? And all 
this she does for the love of you, prince Aziel ; for the love 
of you she refuses to become my queen, ruling over that 
city which I have conquered, and all my unnumbered tribes. 

** Do you guess now why I caused you to be taken living ? 
I will tell you : that you may be the bait to draw her to me. 
To kill you would be easy ; but how would that serve, seeing 
that then she herself would choose to die ? But, perchance, 
to save your life she will live also — yes, and give herself to 
me. At least, I will try it ; should the plan fail — then you 
can pay the price of her pride with your blood, prince Aziel." 

"That I would do gladly," answered Aziel, "but oh! 
what a cross-bred hound you are who thus can seek to 
torture the heart of a helpless woman ! Have you then no 
manhood that you can stoop to such a coward's plot ? " 

** Fool ! it is because of my manhood that I do stoop to 
it," said Ithobal angrily. ** Doubtless you think that a mad 
fancy and naught else drives me to the deed, but it is not 
so, although in truth my heart — like yours — chooses this 
woman to be my wife and none other. That fondness I 
might conquer, but look you, of all things living this lady 
alone has dared to cross my will, so that to-day even the 
sentries on their rounds and the savage women in the kraaU 


222 ELISSA. 

tell each other of how Ithobal^ the great king of an hundred 
tribes, has been baffled and mocked at by a girl who despises 
him because his blood is not all white. Thus I am become 
a laughing-stock, and therefore I will win her, cost me what 
it may.'* 

** And I, king Ithobal, tell you that you will not win her 
— no, not if you torture me to death before her eyes." 

" That we shall see," said the king with a sneer. Then 
he called to his guard and added, '* Let this man and his 
companions be taken to the place prepared for them *\ 

Now Aziel was dragged from the tent and thrust into 
a wooden cage, such as were used for carrying slaves and 
women from place to place upon the backs of camels. His 
soldiers, who had been taken with him, were thrust also 
into cages, and, with himself laden upon camels that were 
waiting, two cages to each camel. Then a cloth was thrown 
over them, and, rising to their feet, the camels began to 

When they had covered a league or more of ground Aziel 
learned from the motion of the camel upon which he was 
secured, and the sound of the repeated blows of its drivers, 
that they were ascending some steep place. At length they 
reached the top of it, and were unloaded from the beasts like 
merchandise, but he could see nothing, for by now the night 
had fallen. Then, still in the cages, they were carried to a 
tent, where food and water were given them through the 
bars, after which, so weary was Aziel with war, misery and 
the remains of recent illness, that he fell asleep. 

At daybreak he awoke, or rather was awakened, by the 
sound of a familiar voice, and, looking through his bars, 
perceived Metem standing before them, guarded but un- 
bound, with indignation written on his face, and tears in 
his quick eyes. 

** Alas I " he cried, ** that I should have lived to see the 
seed of Israel and Pharaoh thus fastened like a wild beast in 
a den, while barbarians make a mock of him. Oh ! Prince, 


it were better that you should die rather than endure such 

*' Misfortunes are the master of man, not man of his mis- 
fortunes, Metem," said Aziel quietly, ** and in them is no 
true disgrace. Even if I had the means to kill myself, it 
would be a sin ; moreover, it might bring another to her 
death. Therefore, I await my doom, whatever it may be, 
with such patience as I can, trusting that my sufiferings and 
ignominy may expiate my crimes in the sight of Him whom 
I renounced. But how come you here, Metem ? " 

'* I came under the safe-conduct of Ithobal who gave me 
leave to visit you, doubtless for some ends of his own. Have 
you heard. Prince, that he holds the gates of the city, though 
as yet no harm has been done to it, and that its inhabitants 
are crowded within the temple, and upon the heights above ; 
also that in his despair Sakon has fallen on his sword and 
slain himself? " 

" Is it so ? " answered Aziel. ** Well, Issachar foretold 
as much. On their own heads be the doom of these devil- 
worshippers and cowards. Have you any tidings of the 
lady Elissa ? " 

" Yes, Prince. She still sits yonder in the tomb, resolute 
in her purpose, and giving no answer to those who come to 
reason with her." 

As he spoke the guard let fall the front of the tent so that 
the sunlight flowed into it, revealing Aziel and his twelve 
companions, each fast in his narrow and shameful prison. 
** See," said Metem, ** do you know the place ? " 

The prince struggled to his knees, and saw that they 
were set upon the top of a hill, built up of granite boulders, 
which rose eighty feet or more from the surface of the plain. 
Opposite to them at a distance of under a hundred paces 
was a precipice in the face of which could be seen a cave 
closed with barred gates of bronze, while between the rocky 
hill and the precipice ran a road. 

** I know it, Metem ; there runs the path by which we 

224 ELISSA. 

travelled from the coast, and there is the tomb of Baaltis. 
Why have we been brought here ? " 

** The lady Elissa sits behind the bars of yonder tomb 
whence her view of all that happens upon this mount must 
be veiy good indeed," answered Metem with meaning. 
" Now, can you guess why you were brought here, prince 
Aziel ? " 

** Is it that she may witness our sufferings under torment ? *' 
he asked. 

Metem nodded. 

** How will they deal with us, Metem ? " 

*' Wait and see," he answered sadly. 

As he spoke Ithobal himself appeared followed by certain 
evil-looking savages. Having greeted Metem courteously he 
turned to the Hebrew soldiers in the cages and asked them 
which of their number was most prepared to die. 

" I, Ithobal, who am their leader, " said Aziel. 

"No, Prince," replied Ithobal, with a cruel smile, "your 
time is not yet Look, there is a man who has been 
wounded ; to put him out of his pain will be a kindness. 
Slaves, bear that Jew to the edge of the rock, and — as the 
prince will wish to study a new mode of death — bring his 
cage also." 

The order was obeyed, Aziel being set down upon the 
very verge of the cliflf. Close to him a spur of granite 
jutted out twenty feet or so from its edge. At the end of 
the spur a groove was cut and over this groove, sus()ended 
by a thin chain from a pole, hung a wedge of pure crystal 
carefully shaped and polished. While Aziel wondered what 
evil purpose ihis stone might serve, the slaves had fastened 
a fine rope to the cage containing the wounded Hebrew 
soldier and secured its end. Then they set the rope in the 
groove of the granite spur, and pushed the cage over the 
edge of the cliff, so that it dangled in mid-air. 

"Now I will explain," said Ithobal. "This is a method 
of punishment that I have borrowed fi;om those followers of 


Baal who worship the sun, by means of which Baal claims 
his own sacrifice, and none are guilty of the victim's blood. 
You see yonder crystal — well, at any appointed hour, for it 
can be hung as you will, the rays of the sun shining through 
it cause the fibres of the grass rope to smoke and smoulder 
till at length they part and — Baal takes his sacrifice. 
Should a cloud hide the sun at the appointed hour, then, 
Baal having spared him, the victim is set free. But, as 
you will note, at this season of the year there are no clouds." 

" What, Prince, have you nothing to say ? " he went on, 
for Aziel had listened in silence to the tale of this devilish 
device. ** Well, learn that it depends upon the lady Elissa 
yonder whether or not this fate shall be yours. Send now 
and pray her to save you. Think what it will be to hang 
as at this moment your servant hangs over that yawning 
gulf of space, waiting through the long hours till at last you 
see the little wreaths of smoke begin to curl from the tinder 
of the cord. Why ! before the end found them I have known 
men go mad, and, like wolves, tear with their teeth at the 
wooden bars. 

** You will not. Then, Metem, do you plead for your 
friend. Bid the Baaltis look forth at one hour before noon 
and see the sight of yonder wretch's death, remembering 
that to-morrow this Fate shall be her lover's unless she fore- 
goes her purpose of self-murder and gives herself to me. 
Nay, no words ! an escort shall lead you through the lower 
city to the gateway of the tomb and there listen to your 
speech. See that it does not fail you, merchant, unless you 
also seek to hang in yonder cage. Tell the lady Elissa 
that to-morrow at sunrise I will come in person for her 
answer. If she yields, then the prince and his companions 
shall be set free and with you, Metem, to guide them, be 
mounted on swift camels to carry them unharmed to their 
retinue beyond the mountains. But if she will not yield, 
then — Baal shall take his sacrifice. Begone." 

So, having no choice, Metem bowed and went, leaving 



the caged Aziel upon the edge of the cliff, and the Hebrew 
soldier hanging from the spur of rock. 

Now Aziel roused himself from the horror in which his 
soul was sunk, and strove to comfort his doomed comrade, 
praying with him to Heaven. 

Slowly as they prayed, the hours drew on till at length, 
upon the opposite cliff, he saw men whom he knew to be 
Metem and his escort, approach the mouth of the tomb, and 
faintly heard him call through the bars of the gateway. 
Turning himself in his cage, Aziel glanced at the rope, and 
watched the spot of light born from the burning glass of the 
crystal creep to its side. 

Now the fatal moment was at hand, and Aziel saw a little 
wreath of smoke rise in the still air and bade his wretched 
sefvant close his eyes. Then came the end. Suddenly the 
taut rope, eaten through by the sun's fire, flew back and the 
cage with the soldier in it vanished from his sight, while, 
from far below, rose the sound of a heavy fall, and from the 
tomb of Baaltis rang the echo of a woman's shriek. 




It was dawn. Ithobal the king stood without the gates of 
the tomb of Baaltis, the grey light glimmering faintly on 
his harness, and knocked upon the brazen bars with the 
handle of his sword. 

** Who troubles me now ? " said a voice within. 

** Lady, it is I, Ithobal, who, as I promised by Metem the 
Phoenician, am come to learn your will as to the fate of my 
prisoner, the Prince Aziel. Already he hangs above the 
gulf, and within one short hour, if you so decree it, he will 
fall and be dashed to pieces. Or, if you so decree it, he will 
be set free to return to his own land." 

" At what price will he be set free, king Ithobal ? " 

** Lady, you know the price ; it is yourself. Oh ! I 
beseech you, be wise ! spare his life and your own. Listen : 
spare his life, and I will spare this city which lies in the 
hollow of my hand, and you shall rule it with me." 

** You cannot bribe me thus, king Ithobal. My father 
whom I loved is dead, and shall I give myself to you for the 
sake of a city and a Faith that would have betrayed me into 
your hands ? " 

** Nay, but for the sake of the man to whom you are 
dear, you shall do even this, Elissa. Think : if you refuse, 
his blood will be upon your head, and what will you have 
gained ? " 

" Death, which I seek, for I weary of the struggle of my 

"Then end it in my arms, lady. Soon this fancy will 

228 ELISSA. 

escape your mind, and you will remain one of the mightiest 
queens of men." 

Elissa returned no answer, and for a while there was silence. 

" Lady," said Ithobal at length, " the sun rises and m^^ 
servants yonder await a signal." 

Then she spoke like one who hesitates. 

"Are you not afraid, king Ithobal, to trust your life to a 
woman won in such a fashion ? " 

** Nay,*' answered Ithobal, ** for though you say that their 
fate does not concern you, the lives of all those penned-up 
thousands are hostages for my own. Should you by chance 
find a means to stab me unawares, then to-night fire and 
sword would rage through the city of Zimboe. Nor do 
I fear the future, since I know well that you who think 
you hate me now, very soon will learn to love me." 

** You promise, king Ithobal, that if I yield myself you 
will set the prince Aziel free ; but how can I believe you 
who twice have tried to murder him ? " 

** Doubt me if you will, Elissa, at least, you cannot doubt 
your own eyes. Look, his road to the sea runs beneath this 
rock. Come from the tomb and take your stand upon it and 
you shall see him pass; yes, and should you wish, speak 
with him in farewell that you may be sure that it is he and 
alive. Further, I swear to you by my head and honour, 
that no finger shall be laid upon you till he is gone by, and 
that no pursuit of him shall be attempted. Now choose." 

Again there was silence for a while. Then Elissa spoke 
in a broken voice. 

*' King Ithobal, I have chosen. Trusting to your royal 
word I will stand upon the rock and when I have seen the 
prince Aziel go by in safety, then, since you desire it, you 
shall put your arms about me and bear me whither you will. 
You have conquered me, king Ithobal ! Henceforward these 
lips of mine are yours and no other man's. Give the signal, 
I pray you, and I will cast aside the dagger and the poison 

4 come out living from this tomb." 


Aziel hung in his cage over the abyss of air, awaiting 
death, and glad to die, because now he was sure that Elissa 
had refused to purchase his life at the price of her own 
surrender. There he hung, dizzy and sick at heart, making 
his prayer to heaven and waiting the end, while the eagles 
that would prey upon his shattered flesh swept past him. 

Presently, from the opposing cliff, came the sound of a 
horn blown thrice. Then, while Aziel wondered what this 
might mean, the cage in which he lay was drawn in gently 
over the edge of the precipice, and carried down the steeps 
of the granite hill as it had been carried up them. 

At the foot of the hill its covering was torn aside, and he 
saw before him a caravan of camels, and seated on each 
camel a comrade of his own. But one camel had no rider, 
and Metem led it by a rope. 

The servants of Ithobal took him from the cage and set 
him upon this camel, though they did not loosen the bonds 
about the wrists. 

** This is the command of the king," said the captain to 
Metem ** that the arms of the prince Aziel shall remain 
bound until you have travelled for six hours. Begone in 
safety, fearing nothing." 

"What happens now, Metem," asked Aziel, as the camels 
strode forward, " and why am I set free who was expecting 
death ? Is this some new artifice of yours, or has the lady 
Elissa " and he ceased. 

" Upon the word of an honest merchant I cannot tell you. 
Prince. Yesterday, as I was forced, I gave the message of 
king Ithobal to the lady Elissa yonder in the tomb. She 
would answer me only one thing, which she whispered in 
my ear through the bars of the holy tomb ; that if we could 
escape we should do so, moreover that you must have no 
fear for her since she also had found a means of escape 
from Ithobal, and would certainly join us upon the road." 

As Metem spoke, the camels passed round the little hill on 

230 ELISSA. 

to the path that ran beneath the tomb of Baaltis. There, 
standing upon the rock some fifty feet above them, was 
Elissa, and with her, but at a distance, Ithobal the king. 

** Halt, prince Aziel," she called in a clear voice, ** and 
hearken to my farewell. I have bought your life, and the 
lives of your companions, and you are free, for the road is 
clear and nothing can overtake the twelve swiftest camels 
in Zimboe. Go, therefore, and be happy, forgetting no word 
that has passed my lips. For all my words are true, even to 
a certain promise which I made yoy lately by the mouth of 
Metem, and which I now fulfil — that I would join you on 
your road lest you should deem me faithless to the troth 
which I have so often sworn to you. 

" King Ithobal, this shape is yours ; come now and take 
your prize. Prince Aziel, my soul is yours, in life it shall 
companion you, and in death await you. Prince Aziel, I 
come to you.'/ Then, before he could answer a single word, 
with one swift and sudden spring she hurled herself from 
the cliff edge to fall crushed upon the road beneath. 

Aziel saw. In his agony he strained so fiercely at the 
bonds which held him that they burst like rushes. He 
leapt from the camel and knelt beside Elissa. She was not 
yet dead, for her eyes were open and her lips stirred. 

** I have kept faith, keep it also, Aziel ! the story is not 
done," she gasped. Then her life flickered out, and her 
spirit passed. 

Aziel rose from beside the corpse and looked upward. 
There upon the edge of the rock above him, leaning forward, 
his eyes blind with horror, stood Ithobal the king. Aziel 
saw him, and a fury entered into his heart because this man, 
whose jealous rage and evil doing had bred such woe and 
caused the death of his beloved still lived upon the earth. 
By the prince was Metem, who, for once, had no words, 
and from his hand he snatched a bow, set an arrow on the 
string and loosed. 

The shaft rushed upwards, it smote Ithobal between the 

I have kept faith, keep it also, Aziel." 


TIIF yi:"' YORK 


ASTOR, Lr^'O".. AND 


R L 

" THERE IS HOPE." 23 1 

joints of his harness so that the point of it sunk throuf^h his 

"This gift, kinj( Ithobal, from Aziel the Israelite," he 
cried, as the arrow sped. 

For a moment the great man stood still, then he opened 
his arms wide and of a sudden plunged downward, falling 
with a crash on the roadway, where he lay dead at the side 
of dead Elissa. 

" The play is played, and the fate fulfilled," cried Metem. 
** See, the servants of the king speed yonder with their evil 
tidings ; let us away lest we bide here with these two for 

•*That is my desire," said A/iel. 

**A desire which may not be fulfilled," answered Metem, 
" Come, Prince, since we cannot go without you. Surely 
you do not wish to sacrifice the lives of all of us as an offer- 
ing to the great spirit of the lady who is dead. It is one 
that she would not seek." 

Then Aziel knelt down and kissed the brow of the dead 
Elissa, and went his way, saying no word. 

That night, when the darkness fell, the sky behind these 
travellers grew red with fire. 

" Behold the end of the golden city ! " said Metem. 
** -2imboe is food for flames and its children for the sword. 
*Ssachar was a prophet indeed, who foretold that it should 
'^e so." 

-Aziel bowed his head, remembering that Issachar had 

'o retold also that for Elissa and for him there was hope 

^>*ond the grave. As he thought it, a wind beat upon his 

^^'Ow and through it a soft voice seemed to murmur to his 

h^^rt :— 

** Be of good courage : Beloved, there is hope." 

So, turning from the death behind him, this far avi^.^^ ^o\- 



gotten lover set his face to the sea of Life and passed it, 
and long ago, at his appointed hour, gained its further shore, 
to be welcomed there b}' her who watched for him. 

And thus, because of the fateful and predestined loves of 
Aziel the prince, and Elissa the priestess and daughter of 
Sakon, three thousand years and more ago, the ancient city 
of Zimboe fell at the hand of king Ithobal and his Tribes, 
so that to-day there remain of it nothing but a desolate grey 
tower of stone, and beneath, the crumbling bones of men. 





Has the age of miracle quite gone by, or is it still possible to 
the Voice of F'aith calling aloud upon the earth to wring from 
the dumb heavens an audible answer to its prayer ? Does 
the promise uttered by the Master of mankind upon the eve 
ofthe^nd — ** Whoso that believeth in Me, the works that 
I do he shall do also . . . and whatsoever ve shall ask in 
My name, that will I do " — still hold good to such as do ask 
and do believe ? 

Let those who care to studv the historv of the Rev. Thomas 
Owen, and of that strange man who carried on and completed 
his work, answer this question according to their judgment. 

The time was a Sunday afternoon in summer, and the 
place a church in the Midland counties. It was a beautiful 
church, ancient and spacious ; moreover, it had recently 
been restored at great cost. Seven or eight hundred people 
could have found sittings in it, and doubtless they had done 
so when Busscombe was a large manufacturing town, before 
the failure of the coal supply and other causes drove away 
its trade. Now it was much what it had been in the time 
of the Normans, a little agricultural village with a population 
of 300 souls. Out of this population, including the choir 
boys, exactly thirty-nine had elected to attend church on 
this particular Sunday ; and of these, three were fast asl^ti^^ 
and four were dozing. 


The Rev. Thomas Owen counted them from his seat in 
the chancel, for another clergyman was preaching; and, as 
he counted, bitterness and disappointment took hold of him. 
The preacher was a ** Deputation," sent by one of the large 
missionary societies to arouse the indifferent to a sense of 
duty towards their unconverted black brethren in Africa, and 
incidentally to collect cash to be spent in the conversion 
of the said brethren. The Rev. Thomas Owen himself sug- 
gested the visit of the Deputation, and had laboured hard to 
secure him a good audience. But the beauty of the weather, 
or terror of the inevitable subscription, prevailed against him. 
Hence his disappointment. 

"Well," he thought, with a sigh, ** I have done my best, 
and I must make it up out of my own pocket." 

Then he settled himself to listen to the sermon. 

The preacher, a battered-looking individual of between 
fifty and sixty years of age, was gaunt with recent sickness, 
patient and unimaginative in aspect. He preached extem- 
porarily, with the aid of notes ; and it cannot be said that 
his discourse was remarkable for interest, at any rate in its 
beginning. Doubtless the sparse congregation, so prone to 
slumber, discouraged him ; for offering exhortations to empty 
benches is but weary work. Indeed he was meditating the 
advisability of bringing his argument to an abrupt con- 
clusion when, chancing to glance round, he became aware 
that he had at least one sympathetic listener, his host, 
the Rev. Thomas Owen. 

From that moment the sermon improved by degrees, till 
at length it reached a really high level of excellence. Ceas- 
ing from rhetoric, the speaker began to tell of his own 
experience and sufferings in the Cause amongst savage 
tribes ; for he himself was a missionary of many years 
standing. He told how once he and a companion had been 
sent to a nation, who named themselves the Sons of Fire 
because their god was the lightning, if indeed they could be 
said to boast any gods other than the Spear and the King. 


In simple language he narrated his terrible adventures 
among these savages, the murder of his companion by com- 
mand of the Council of Wizards, and his own flight for his 
life ; a tale so interesting and vivid that even the bucolic 
sleepers awakened and listened open-mouthed. 

'* But this is by the way," he went on ; "for my Society 
does not ask you to subscribe towards the conversion of the 
Children of F'ire. Until that people is conquered — which 
very likely will not be for generations, seeing that they live 
in Central Africa, occupying a territory that white men do 
not desire — no missionary will dare again to visit them." 

At this moment something caused him to look a second 
time at Thomas Owen. He was leaning forward in his 
place listening eagerly, and a strange light filled the large, 
dark eyes that shone in the pallor of his delicate, nervous 

** There is a man who would dare, if he were put to it," 
thought the Deputation to himself Then he ended his 

That evening the two men sat at dinner in the rectory. 
It was a very fine rectory, beautifully furnished ; for Owen 
was a man of taste which he had the means to gratify. Also, 
although they were alone, the dinner was good — so good 
that the poor broken-down missionary, sipping his unac- 
customed port, a vintage wine, sighed aloud in admiration 
and involuntary envy. 

** What is the matter ? " asked Owen. 

•* Nothing, Mr. Owen ; " then, of a sudden thawing into 
candour, he added: "that is, everything. Heaven forgive 
me ; but I, who enjoy your hospitality, am envious of you. 
Don't think too hardly of me ; I have a large family to 
support, and if only you knew what a struggle my life is, 
and has been for the last twenty years, you would not, I 
am sure. But you have never experienced it, and could not 
understand. * The labourer is worthy of his hire.' Well, 
my hire is under two hundred a year, and eight of us 


must live — or starve — on it. And I have worked, ay, until 
my health is broken. A labourer indeed ! I am a very 
hodman, a spiritual Sisyphus. And now I must go back 
to carry my load and roll my stone again and again among 
those hopeless savages till I die of it — till I die of it ! " 

" At least it is a noble life and death ! " exclaimed Owen, 
a sudden fire of enthusiasm burning in his dark eyes. 

** Yes, viewed from a distance. Were you asked to leave 
this living of two thousand a year — I see that is what they 
put it at in Crockford — with its English comforts and easy 
work, that you might lead that life and attain that death, 
then you would think differently. But why should I bore 
you with such talk ? Thank Heaven that your lines are 
cast in pleasant places. Yes, please, I will take one more 
glass ; it does me good." 

** Tell me some more about that tribe you were speaking 
of in your sermon, the ' Sons of Fire * I think you called 
them," said Owen, as he passed him the decanter. 

So, with an eloquence induced by the generous wine and 
a quickened imagination, the Deputation told him — told him 
many strange things and terrible. For this people was an 
awful people : vigorous in mind and body, and warriors 
from generation to generation, but superstition-ridden and 
cruel. They lived in the far interior, some months' journey 
by boat and ox -waggon from the coast, and of white men 
and their ways they knew but little. 

*' How many of them are there ? " asked Owen. 

•' Who can say ? " he answered. ** Nearly half-a-million, 
perhaps ; at least they pretend that they can put sixty 
thousand men under arms." 

** And did they treat you badly when you visited them ? " 

" Not at first. They received us civilly enough ; and on 
a given day we were requested to explain to the king and 
the Council of Wizards the religion which we came to 
teach. All that day we explained and all the next — or rather 
my friend did, for I knew very little of the language — and 


they listened with great interest. At last the chief of the 
wizards and first prophet to the king rose to question us. 
He was named Hokosa, a tall, thin man, with a spiritual face 
and terrible calm eyes. 

** * You speak well, son of a White Man,' he said, ' but 
let us pass from words to deeds. You tell us that this God 
of yours, whom you desire that we should take as our God, 
so that you may become His chief prophets in the land, 
was a wizard such as we are, though greater than we are ; 
for not only did He know the past and the future as we do, 
but also He could cure those who were smitten with hopeless 
sickness, and raise those who were dead, which we cannot 
do. You tell us, moreover, that by faith those who believe 
on Him can do works as great as He did, and that you do 
believe on Him. Therefore we will put you to the proof. 
Ho ! there, lead forth that evil one.' 

** As he spoke a man was placed before us, one who had 
been convicted of witchcraft or some other crime. 

** * Kill him ! ' said Hokosa. 

** There was a faint cry, a scuffle, a flashing of spears, and 
the man lay still before us. 

** * Now, followers of the new God,' said Hokosa, * raise 
him from the dead as your Master did ! ' 

** In vain did we offer explanations. 

"'Peace!' said Hokosa at length, 'your words weary 
us. Look now, either you have preached to us a false god 
and are liars, or you are traitors to the King you preach, 
since, lacking faith in Him, you cannot do such works as 
He gives power to do to those who have faith in Him. Out 
of your own mouths are you judged, White Men. Choose 
which horn of the bull you will, you hang to one of them, 
and it shall pierce you. This is the sentence of the king, I 
speak it who am the king's mouth : That you, White Man, 
who have spoken to us and cheated us these two weary days, 
be put to death, and that you, his companion who have 
been silent, be driven from the land.' 


** I can hardly bear to tell the rest of it, Mr. Owen. They 
gave my poor friend ten minutes to ' talk to his Spirit,' then 
they speared him before my face. After it was over, Hokosa 
spoke to me, saying : — 

** * Go back, White Man, to those who sent you, and tell 
them the words of the Sons of Fire : That they have listened 
to the message of peace, and though they are a people of 
warriors, yet they thank them for that message, for in itself 
it sounds good and beautiful in their ears, if it be true. Tell 
them that having proved you to be liars, they dealt with you 
as all honest men seek that liars should be dealt with. Tell 
them that they desire to hear more of this matter, and if 
one can be sent to them who has no false tongue ; who in 
all things fulfils the promise of his lips, that they will hearken 
to him and treat him well, but that for such as you they 
keep a spear.' " 

** And who went after you got back ? " asked Owen, who 
was listening with the deepest interest. 

" Who went ? Do you suppose that there are many mad 
clergymen in Africa, Mr. Owen ? Nobody went." 

*' And yet," said Owen, speaking more to himself than to 
his guest, "the man Hokosa was right, and the Christian 
who of a truth believes the promises of our religion should 
trust to them and go." 

*' Then perhaps you would like to undertake the mission, 
Mr. Owen," said the Deputation briskly; for the reflection 
stung him, unintentional as it was. 

Owen started. 

*' That is a new idea," he said. ** And now perhaps you 
wish to go to bed ; it is past eleven o'clock." 


chaptp:r II. 


Thomas Owen went to his room, but not to bed. Taking 
a Bible from the table, he consulted reference after reference. 

" The promise is clear," he said aloud presently, as he 
shut the book; "clear and often repeated. There is no 
escape from it, and no possibility of a double meaning. If 
it is not true, then it would seem that nothing is true, and 
that every Christian in the world is tricked and deluded. 
But if it /5 true, why do we never hear of miracles ? The 
answer is easy : Because we have not faith enough to work 
them. The Apostles worked miracles ; for they had seen, 
therefore their faith was perfect. Since their day nobody's 
faith has been quite perfect ; at least I think not. The 
physical part of our nature prevents it. Or perhaps the 
miracles still happen, but they are spiritual miracles." 

Then he sat down by the open window, and gazing at the 
dreamy beauty of the summer night, he thought, for his soul 
was troubled. Once before it had been troubled thus ; that 
was nine years ago, for now he was but little over thirty. 
Then a call had come to him, a voice had seemed to speak 
in his ears bidding him to lay down great possessions to 
follow whither Heaven should lead him. Thomas Owen 
had obeyed the voice ; though, owing to circumstances which 
need not be detailed, to do so he was obliged to renounce 
his succession to a very large estate, and to content himself 
with a younger son's* portion of thirty thousand pounds and 
the reversion to the living which he had now held for some 
five years. 


Then and there, with singular unanimity and despatch, 
his relations came to the conclusion that he was mad. To 
this hour, indeed, those who stand in his place and enjoy 
the wealth and position that were his by right, speak of him 
as ** poor Thomas," and mark their disapprobation of his 
peculiar conduct by refusing with an unvarying steadiness 
to subscribe even a single shilling to a missionary society. 
How " poor Thomas " speaks of them in the place where 
he is we may wonder, but as yet we cannot know — probably 
with the gentle love and charity that marked his every 
action upon earth. But this is by the way. 

He had entered the Church, but what had he done in its 
shadow ? This was the question which Owen asked himself 
as he sat that night by the open window, arraigning his past 
before the judgment-seat of conscience. For three years he 
had worked hard somewhere in the slums ; then this living 
had fallen to him. He had taken it, and from that day 
forward his record was very much of a blank. The parish 
was small and well ordered ; there was little to do in it, 
and the Salvation Army had seized upon and reclaimed two 
of the three confirmed drunkards it could boast. 

His guest's saying echoed in his brain like the catch of 
a tune — ** thatjow might lead that life and attain that death *'. 
Supposing that he were bidden so to do now, this very night, 
would he indeed " think differently " ? He had become a 
priest to serve his Maker. How would it be were that 
Maker to command that he should serve Him in this extreme 
and heroic fashion ? Would he flinch from the steely or 
would he meet it as the martyrs met it of old ? 

Physically he was little suited to such an enterprise, for 
in appearance he was slight and pale, and in constitution 
delicate. Also, there was another reason against the thing. 
High Church and somewhat ascetic in his principles, in the 
beginning he had admired celibacy, and in secret dedicated 
himself to that state. But at heart Thomas was very much 

man, and of late he had come to see that that which 


is against nature is presumably not right, though fanatics 
may not hesitate to pronounce it wrong. Possibly this 
conversion to more genial views of life was quickened by 
the presence in the neighbourhood of a young lady whom 
he chanced to admire ; at least it is certain that the mere 
thought of seeing her no more for ever smote him like a 
sword of sudden pain. 

That very night — or so it seemed to him, and so he be- 
lieved — the Angel of the Lord stood before him as he was 
wont to stand before the men of old, and spoke a summons 
in his ear. How or in what seeming that summons came 
Thomas Owen never told, and we need not inquire. At the 
least he heard it, and, like the Apostles, he arose and girded 
his loins to obey. For now, in the hour of trial, it proved 
that this man's faith partook of the nature of their faith. 
It was utter and virgin ; it was not clogged with nineteenth- 
century qualifications; it had never dallied with strange 
doctrines, or kissed the feet of pinchbeck substitutes for 
God. In his heart he believed that the Almighty, without 
intermediary, but face to face, had bidden him to go forth 
into the wilderness there to perish. So he bowed his head 
and went. 

On the following morning at breakfast Owen had some 
talk with his friend the Deputation. 

" You asked me last night," he said quietly, *' whether 
I would undertake a mission to that people of whom you 
were telling me — the Sons of Fire. Well, I have been 
thinking it over, and come to the conclusion that I will do 


At this point the Deputation, concluding that his host 
must be mad, moved quietly but decidedly towards the 

"Wait a moment," went on Owen, in a matter-of-fact 
voice, "the dog-cart will not be round for another three- 
quarters of an hour. Tell me, if it were offered to you, and 


on investigation you proved suitable, would you care to take 
over this living ? " 

** Would I care to take over this living?" gasped the 
astonished Deputation. "Would I care to walk down that 
garden and find myself in Heaven ? But why are you 
making fun of me ? " 

*' I am not making fun of you. If I go to Africa I must 
give up the living, of which I own the advowson, and it 
occurred to me that it might suit you — that is all. You 
have done your share ; your health is broken, and you 
have many dependant upon you. It seems right, there- 
fore, that you should rest, and that I should work. If 
I do no good yonder, at the least you and yours will be 
a little benefited." 

That same day Owen chanced to meet the lady who has 
been spoken of as having caught his heart. He had meant 
to go away without seeing her, but fortune brought them 
together. Hitherto, whilst in reality leading him on, she 
had seemed to keep him at a distance, with the result that 
he did not know that it was her fixed intention to marry 
him. To her, with some hesitation, he told his plans. 
Surprised and frightened into candour, the lady reasoned 
with him warmly, and when reason failed to move him she 
did more. By some subtle movement, with some sudden 
word, she lifted the veil of her reserve and suffered him to 
see her heart. ** If you will not stay for aught else," said 
her troubled eyes, " then, love, stay for me." 

For a moment he was shaken. Then he answered the 
look straight out, as was his nature. 

'* I never guessed," he said. ** I did not presume to hope 
— now it is too late ! Listen ! I will tell you what I have 
told no living soul, though thereafter you may think me 
mad. Weak and humble as I am, I believe myself to have 
received a Divine mission. I believe that I shall execute it, 
or bring about its execution, but at the ultimate cost of my 



own life. Still, in such a service two are better than one. 
If you — can care enough — if you " 

But the lady had already turned away, and was murmur- 
ing her farewell in accents that sounded like a sob. Love 
and faith after this sort were not given to her. 

Of all Owen's trials this was the sharpest. Of all his 
sacrifices this was the most complete. 




Two years have gone by all but a few months, and from 
the rectory in a quiet English village we pass to a scene in 
Central, or South Central, Africa. 

On the brow of a grassy slope dotted over with mimosa 
thorns, and close to a gushing stream of water, stands a 
house, or rather a hut, built of green brick and thatched 
with grass. Behind this hut is a fence of thorns, rough 
but strong, designed to protect all within it from the attacks 
of lions and other beasts of prey. At present, save for a 
solitary mule eating its provender by the wheel of a tented 
ox- waggon, it is untenanted, for the cattle have not yet been 
kraaled for the night. Presently Thomas Owen enters this 
enclosure by the back door of the hut, and having attended 
to the mule, which whinnies at the sight of him, goes to the 
gate and watches there till he sees his native boys driving 
the cattle up the slope of the hill. At length they arrive, 
and when he has counted them to make sure that none are 
missing, and in a few kind words commended the herds for 
their watchfulness, he walks to the front of the house and, 
seating himself upon a wooden stool set under a mimosa 
tree that grows near the door, he looks earnestly towards 
the west. 

The man has changed somewhat since last we saw him. 
To begin with, he has grown a beard, and although the hot 
African sun has bronzed it into an appearance of health, his 
face is even thinner than it was, and therein the great 
spiritual eyes shine still more strangely. 

'■■i y^Bt^-fg 

Half an hour later John stands belbre him. 


At the foot of the slope runs a wide river, just here broken 
into rapids where the waters make an an^ry music. Beyond 
this river stretches a vast plain bounded on the horizon by 
mountain ranges, each line of them rising higher than the 
other till their topmost and more distant peaks melt imper- 
ceptibly into the tender blue of the heavens. This is the 
land of the Sons of Fire, and yonder amid the slopes of the 
nearest hills is the f^reat kraal of their kin^, Umsuka, whose 
name, being interpreted, means The Thunderbolt. 

In the very midst of the foam in <; rapids, and about a 
thousand yards from the house lies a space of rippling; 
shallow water, where, unless it chances to be in flood, the 
river can be forded. It is this ford that Owen watches so 

"John should have been back twelve hours ajj:o," he 
matters to himself. *' I pray that no harm has befallen him 
at the Great Place yonder.'* 

Just then a tiny black speck appears, far away on the 
plain. It is a man travelling towards the water at a swing- 
ing trot Going into the hut, Owen returns with a pair of 
field-glasses, and through them scrutinises the figure of the 

"Heaven be praised! It is John," he mutters, with a 
sigh of relief. " Now, I wonder what answer he brings ? " 

Half an hour later John stands before him, a stalwart 
native of the tribe of the Amasuka, the People of Fire, and 
with uplifted .hand salutes him, giving him titles of honour. 

•* Praise me not, John," said Owen ; " praise God only, 
as I have taught you to do. Tell me, have you seen the 
king, and what is his word ? " 

•* Father," he answered, *' I journeyed to the great town, 
as you bade me, and I was admitted before the majesty of 
the king; yes, he received me in the courtyard of the House 
of Women. With his guards, who stood at a distance out 
of hearing, there were present three only ; but oh ! those 
three were great, the greatest in all the land after the kin($. 


They were Hafela, the king that is to come, the prince 
Nodwengo, his brother, and Hokosa the terrible, the chief 
of the wizards ; and I tell you, father, that my blood dried 
up and my heart shrivelled when they turned their eyes 
upon me, reading the thoughts of my heart." 

'* Have I not told you, John, to trust in God, and fear 
nothing at the hands of man ? " 

" You told me, father, but still I feared," answered the 
messenger humbly. ** Yet, being bidden to it, I lifted my 
forehead from the dust and stood upon my feet before the 
king, and delivered to him the message which you set 
between my lips." 

** Repeat the message, John." 

** * O King,' I said, * beneath whose footfall the whole 
earth shakes, whose arms stretch round the world and 
whose breath is the storm, I, whose name is John, am sent 
by the white man whose name is Messenger' — for by that 
title you bade me make you known — * who for a year has 
dwelt in the land that your spears have wasted beyond the 
banks of the river. These are the words which he spoke to 
me, O King, that I pass on to you with my tongue : ** To 
the King Umsuka, lord of the Amasuka, the Sons of Fire, 
I, Messenger, who am the servant and the ambassador of 
the King of Heaven, give greeting. A year ago, King, I 
sent to you §aying that the message which was brought by 
that white man whom you drove from your land had reached 
the ears of Him whom I serve, the High and Holy One, 
and that, speaking in my heart, He had commanded me 
to take up the challenge of your message. Here am I, 
therefore, ready to abide by the law which you have laid 
down ; for if guile or lies be found in me, then let me travel 
from your land across the bridge of spears. Still, I would 
dwell a little while here where I am before I pass into the 
shadow of your rule and speak in the ears of your people 
as I have been bidden. Know, King, that first I would 
1^ learn your tongue, and therefore I demand that one of your 


people may be sent to dwell with me and to teach me that 
tongue. King, you heard my words and you sent me a 
man to dwell with me, and that man has taught me your 
tongue, and I also have taught him, converting him to my 
faith and giving him a new name, the name of John. 
King, now I seek your leave to visit you, and to deliver into 
your ears the words with which I, Messenger, am charged. 
I have spoken.*' * 

"Thus I, John, addressed the great ones, my fathfer, and 
they listened in silence. When I had done they spoke 
together, a word here and a word there. Then Hokosa, the 
king's mouth, answered me, telling the thought of the 
king : * You are a bold man, you whose name is John, but 
who once had another name — you, my servant, who dare 
to appear before me, and to make it known to me that 
you have been turned to a new faith and serve another 
king than I. Yet because you are bold, I forgive you. Go 
back now to that white man who is named Messenger and 
who comes upon an embassy to me from the Lord of 
Heaven, and bid him come in peace. Yet warn him once 
again that here also we know something of the Powers that 
are not seen, here also we have our wizards who draw 
wisdom from the air, who tame the thunderbolt and compel 
the rain, and that he must show himself greater than all of 
these if he would not pass hence by th6 bridge of spears. 
Let him, therefore, take counsel with his heart and with 
Him he serves, if such a One there is, and let him come or 
let him stay away as it shall please him.' " 

** So be it," said Owen ; ** the words of the king are good, 
and to-morrow we will start for the Great Place." 

John heard and assented, but without eagerness. 

*• My father," he said, in a doubtful and tentative voice, 
** would it not perhaps be better to bide here awhile first ? " 

** Why ? " asked Owen. ** We have sown, and now is 
the hour to reap." 

** It is so, my father, but as I ran hither, full oC tK^ 


king's words, it came into my mind that now is not the time 
to convert the Sons of Fire. There is trouble brewing at 
the Great Place, father. Listen, and I will tell you ; as 
I have heard, so I will tell you. You know well that our 
King Umsuka has two sons, Hafela and Nodwengo; and 
of these Hafela is the heir-apparent, the fruit of the chief 
wife of the king, and Nodwengo is sprung from another 
wife. Now Hafela is proud and cruel, a warrior of warriors, 
a terrible man, and Nodwengo is gentle and mild, like to his 
mother whom the king loves. Of late it has been discovered 
that Hafela, weary of waiting for power, has made a plot to 
depose his father and to kill Nodwengo, his brother, so that 
the land and those who dwell in it may become his without 
question. This plot the king knows — I had it from one of 
his women, who is my sister — and he is very wroth, yet he 
dare do little, for he grows old and timid, and seeks rest, 
not war. Yet he is minded, if he can find the heart, to go 
back upon the law and to name Nodwengo as his heir before 
all the army at the feast of the first-fruits, which shall be 
held on the third day from to-night. This Hafela knows, 
and Nodwengo knows it also, and each of them has 
summoned his following, numbering thousands and tens of 
thousands of spears, to attend this feast of the first-fruits. 
That feast may well be a feast of vultures, my father, and 
when the brothers and their regiments rush together fighting 
for the throne, what will chance to the white man who 
comes at such a moment to preach a faith of peace, and to 
his servant, one John, who led him there ? " 

"I do not know," answered Owen, **and it troubles me 
not at all. I go to carry out my mission, and in this way 
or in that it will be carried out. John, if you are fearful or 
unbelieving leave me to go alone." 

** Nay, father, I am not fearful ; yet, father, I would have 
you understand. Yonder there are men who can work 
wizardry. Wow ! I know, for I have seen it, and they will 
demand from you magic greater than their magic.'* 


** What of it, John ? " 

•* Only this, my father, that if they ask and you fail 
to give, they will kill you. You teach beautiful things, but 
say. are you a wizard ? When the child of a woman yonder 
lay dead, you could not raise it as did the Christ ; when the 
oxen were sick with the pest, you could not cure them ; or 
at least, my father, you did not, although you wept for the 
child and were sorry at the loss of the oxen. Now, my 
father, if perchance they ask you to do such things as these 
yonder, or die, say what will happen ? " 

"One of two things, John: either I shall die or I shall 
do the things." 

"But" — hesitated John — "surely you do not believe 

that " and he broke off. 

Owen turned round and looked at his disciple with kind- 
ling eyes. " I do beheve, O you of little faith ! " he said. 
•* I do believe that yonder I have a mission, and that He 
Whom I serve will give me power to carry out that mission. 
You are right, I can work no miracles ; but He can work 
miracles Whom everything in heaven and earth obeys, and 
if there is need He will work them through me, His instru- 
ment. Or perhaps He will not work them, and I shall die, 
because thus His ends will best be forwarded. At the least 
I go in faith, fearing nothing, for what has he to fear who 
knows the will of God and does it ? But to you who doubt, 
I say — leave me ! " 

The man spread out his hands in deprecation ; his thick 
lips trembled a little, and something like a tear appeared at 
the corners of his eyes. 

" Father," he said, " am I a coward that you should talk 
to me thus ? I, who for twenty years have been a soldier 
of my king and for ten a captain in my regiment ? These 
scars show whether or no I am a coward," and he pointed 
to his breast, " but of them I will not speak. I am no 
coward, else I had not gone upon that errand of yours. 
Why, then, should you reproach me because my ears ate. 


not so open as yours, and my heart has not understanding ? 
I worship that God of Whom you have taught me, but He 
never speaks to me as He does to you. I never meet Him 
as I walk at night ; He leaves me quite alone. Therefore it 
is that I fear that when the hour of trial comes He mav 
desert you ; and unless He covers you with His shield, of 
this I am sure, that the spear is forged which shall blush 
red in your heart, my father. It is for you that I fear, who 
are so gentle and tender ; not for myself, who am well 
accustomed to look in the eyes of Death, and who expect no 
more than death." 

** Forgive me," said Owen hastily, for he was moved ; 
" and be sure that the shield will be over us till the time 
comes for us to pass whither we shall need none." 

That night Owen rose from the task at which he was 
labouring slowly and painfully — a translation of passages 
from the Gospel of St John into the language of the 
Amasuka — and going to the open window-place of the hut, 
he rested his elbows upon it and thought, staring with 
empty eyes into the blackness of the night. Now it was as 
he sat thus that a great agony of doubt took possession of 
his soul. The strength which hitherto had supported him 
seemed to be withdrawn, and he was left, as John had said, 
"quite alone". Strange voices seemed to whisper in his 
ears, reproaching and reviling him ; temptations long ago 
trampled under foot rose again in might, alluring him. 

** Fool," said the voices, '* get you hence before it is too 
late. You have been mad ; you who dreamed that for your 
sake, to satisfy your pride, the Almighty will break His 
silence and strain His law. Are you then better, or greater, 
or purer than millions who have gone before you, that for 
you and you alone this thing should be done ? Why, were 
it not that you are mad, you would be among the chief of 

ners ; you who dare to ask that the Powers of Heaven 
Id be set within your feeble hand^ that the Angels of 


Heaven should wait upon your mortal breath. Worm that 
you are, has God need of such as you ? If it is His will to 
turn the heart of yonder people He will do it, but not by 
means of you. You and the servant whom you are deluding 
to his death will perish miserably, and this alone shall be 
the fruit of your presumptuous sin. Get you back out of 
this wilderness before the madness takes you afresh. You 
are still young, you have wealth ; look where She stands 
yonder whom you desire. Get you back, and forget your 
folly in her arms." 

These thoughts, and many others of like nature, tore 
Owen's soul in that hour of strange and terrible temptation. 
He seemed to see himself standing before the thousands of 
the savage nation he went to save, and to hear the mocking 
voices of their witch-finders commanding him, if he were 
a true man and the servant of that God of Whom he prated, 
to give them a sign, only a little sign : perhaps to move a 
stone without touching it with his hand, or to cause a dead 
bough to blossom. 

Then he would beseech Heaven with frantic prayers, and 
in vain, till at length, amidst a roar of laughter, he, the false 
prophet and the liar, was led out to his doom. He saw the 
piteous wondering look of the believer whom he had betrayed 
to death ; he saw the fierce faces and the spears on high. 
Seeing all this his spirit broke, and, just as the little clock 
in the room behind him struck the first stroke of midnight, 
with a great and bitter cry to God to give him back the faith 
and strength that he had lost, Owen's head fell forward and 
he sank into a swoon there upon the window-place. 




Was it swoon or sleep ? 

At least It seemed to Owen that presently once again he 
was gazing into the dense intolerable blackness of the night 
Then a marvel came to pass, for the blackness opened, or 
rather on it, framed and surrounded by it, there appeared a 
vision. It was the vision of a native town, having a great 
bare space in the centre of it encircled by hundreds or thou- 
sands of huts. Hut there was no one stirring about the 
huts, for it was night — not this his night of trial indeed, 
since now the skv was strewn with innumerable stars. 
Kverything was silent about that town, save that now and 
again a dog barked or a fretful child wailed within a hut, or 
the sentries as they passed saluted each other in the name 
of the king. 

Among all those hundreds of huts, to Owen it seemed 
that his attention was directed to one which stood apart 
surrounded with a fence. Now the interior of the hut opened 
itself to him. It was not lighted, yet with his spirit sense 
he could see its every detail : the polished floor, the skin 
rugs, the beer gourds, the shields and spears, the roof-tree 
of red wc^od, and the dried lizard hanging from the thatch, a 
charm to ward otT evil. In this hut, seated face to face half- 
way between the centre-post and the door-hole, were two men. 
The darkness was deep about them, and they whispered to 
each other through it ; but in his dream this was no bar to 
Owen's sight. He could discern their faces clearly. 
1^ One of them was that of a man of about thirty-five years of 

TILIXS lC3I>.'wlON3 


age. In stature he was almost a giant He wore a kaross 
of leopard skins, and on his wrists and ankles were rings of 
ivory, the royal ornaments. His face was fierce and power- 
ful ; his eyes, which were set far apart, rolled so much that 
at times they seemed all white ; and his fingers played 
nervously with the handle of a spear that he carried in his 
right hand. His companion was of a different stamp ; a 
person of more than fifty years, he was tall and spare in 
figure, with delicately shaped hands and feet. His hair and 
little beard were tinged with grey, his face was strikingly 
handsome, nervous and expressive, and his forehead both 
broad and high. But more remarkable still were his eyes, 
which shone with a piercing brightness, almost grey in 
colour, steady as the flame of a well-trimmed lamp, and so 
cold that they might have been precious stones set in the 
head of a statue. 

'* Must I then put your thought in words ? " said this 
man in a clear quick whisper. ** Well, so be it ; for I weary 
of sitting here in the dark waiting for water that will not 
flow. Listen, Prince ; you come to talk to me of the death 
of a king — is it not so ? Nay do not start. Why are you 
affrighted when you hear upon the lips of another the plot 
that these many months has been familiar to your breast? " 

** Truly, Hokosa, you are the best of wizards, or the 
worst,*' answered the great man huskily. *' Yet this once 
you are mistaken," he added with a change of voice. ** I 
came but to ask you for a charm to turn my father's heart " 

** To dust ? Prince, if I am mistaken, why am I the best 
of wizards, or the worst, and why did your jaw drop and 
your face change at my words, and why do you even now 
touch your dry lips with your tongue ? Yes, I know that it 
is dark here, yet some can see in it, and I am one of them. 
Ay, Prince, and I can see your mind also. You would be rid 
of your father : he has lived too long. Moreover his love 
turns to Nodwengo, the good and gentle ; and perhaps — 
who can say ? — it is even in his thought, when all his regi- 


ments are about him two days hence, to declare that you, 
Prince, are deposed, and that your brother, Nodwcngo, shall 
be king in your stead. Now, Nodwengo you cannot kill ; 
he is too well loved and too well guarded. If he died 
suddenly, his dead lips would call out ' Murder ! ' in the ears 
of all men ; and, Prince, all eyes would turn to you, who 
alone could profit by his end. But if the king should chance 
to die — why he is old, is he not ? and such things happen 
to the old. Also he grows feeble, and will not suffer the 
regiments to be doctored for war, although day by day they 
clamour to be led to battle ; for he seeks to end his years in 

" I say that you speak folly," answered the prince with 

** Then, Son of the Great One, why should you waste 
time in listening to me ? Farewell, Hafela the Prince, first- 
born of the king, who in a day to come shall carry the 
shield of Nodwengo ; for he is good and gentle, and will 
spare your life — if I beg it of him." 

Hafela stretched out his hand through the darkness, and 
caught Hokosa by the wrist. 

** Stay," he whispered, ** it is true. The king must die; 
for if he does not die within three days, I shall cease to be 
his heir. I know it through my spies. He is angry with 
me ; he hates me, and he loves Nodwengo and the mother 
of Nodwengo. But if he dies before the last day of the 
festival, then that decree will never pass his lips, and the 
regiments will never roar out the name of Nodwengo as the 
name of the king to come. He must die, I tell you, Hokosa, 
and — by your hand." 

** By my hand. Prince ! Nay ; what have you to offer me 
in return for such a deed as this? Have I not grown up in 
Umsuka's shadow, and shall I cut down the tree that shades 

** What have I to offer you ? This : that next to myself 
you shall be the greatest in the land, Hokosa. ** 


** That I am already, and whoever rules it, that I must 
always be. I, who am the chief of wizards ; I the reader of 
men's hearts ; I, the hearer of men's thoughts ! I, the lord of 
the air and the lightning ; I, the invulnerable. If you would 
murder, Prince, then do the deed ; do it knowing that I have 
your secret, and that henceforth you who rule shall be my 
servant. Nay, you forget that I can see in the dark ; lay 
down that assegai, or, by my spirit, prince as you are, I 
will blast you with a spell, and your body shall be thrown 
to the kites, as that of one who would murder his king and 
father ! " 

The prince heard and shook, his cheeks sank in, the 
muscles of his great form seemed to collapse, and he grovelled 
on the floor of the hut. 

** I know your magic," he groaned ; ** use it for me, not 
against me ! What is there that I can offer you, who have 
everything except the throne, whereon you cannot sit, seeing 
that you are not of the blood-royal ? " 

** Think," said Hokosa. 

For a while the prince thought, till presently his form 
straightened itself, and with a quick movement he lifted up 
his head. 

•' Is it, perchance, my affianced wife ? " he whispered ; 
** the lady Noma, whom I love, and who, according to our 
custom, I shall wed as the queen to be after the feast of 
first-fruits? Oh ! say it not, Hokosa." 

" I say it," answered the wizard. ** Listen, Prince. The 
lady Noma is the only child of my blood-brother, my friend, 
with whom I was brought up, he who was slain at my side 
in the great war with the tribes of the north. She was my 
ward : she was more ; for through her — ah ! you know not 
how — I held my converse with the things of earth and air, 
the very spirits that watch us now in this darkness, Hafela. 
Thus it happened, that before ever she was a woman, her 
mind grew greater than the mind of any other woman, and 
her thought became my thought, aqd my thought became her 



thought, for I and no other am her master. Still I waited 
to wed her till she was fully grown ; and while I waited I 
went upon an embassy to the northern tribes. Then it was 
that you saw the maid in visiting at my kraal, and her beauty 
and her wit took hold of you ; and in the council of the 
king, as you have a right to do, you named her as your head 
wife, the queen that is to be. 

** The king heard and bowed his head ; he sent and took 
her, and placed her in the House of the Royal Women, 
there to abide till this feast of the first-fruits, when she shall 
be given to you in marriage. Yes, he sent her to that 
guarded house wherein not even I may set my foot. Al- 
though I was afar, her spirit warned me, and I returned, but 
too late ; for she was sealed to you of the blood-royal, and 
that is a law which may not be broken. 

** Hafela, I prayed you to return her to me, and you mocked 
me. I would have brought you to your death, but it could 
not have availed me : for then, by that same law, which may 
not be broken, she who was sealed to you must die with you ; 
and though thereafter her spirit should sit with me till I 
died also, it was not enough, since I who have conquered all, 
yet cannot conquer the fire that wastes my heart, nor cease 
to long by night and day for a woman who is lost to me. 
Then it was, Hafela, that I plotted vengeance against you. 
I threw my spell over the mind of the king, till he learnt 
to hate you and your evil deeds ; and I, even I, have brought 
it about that your brother should be preferred before you, and 
that you shall be the servant in his house. This is the price 
that you must pay for her of whom you have robbed me ; and 
by my spirit and her spirit you shall pay ! Yet listen. Hand 
back the girl, as you may do — for she is not yet your wife — 
and choose another for your queen, and I will undo all that 
I have done, and I will find you ^ means, Hafela, to carry 
out your will. Ay, before six suns have set, the regiments 
rushing past you shall hail you King of the Nation of the 
asuka, Lord of the ancient House of Fire ! " 


" I cannot," groaned the prince ; ** death were better than 
this ! " 

** Ay, death were better ; but you shall not die, you shall 
live a servant, and your name shall become a mockery, a 
name for women to make rhymes on." 

Now the prince sprang up. 

** Take her ! " he hissed ; ** take her ! you, who are an evil 
ghost ; you, beneath whose eyes children wail, and at whose 
passing the hairs on the backs of hounds stand up ! Take 
her, priest of death and ill ; but take my curse with her ! 
Ah ! I also can prophecy ; and I tell you that this woman 
whom you have taught, this witch of many spells, whose 
glance can shrivel the hearts of men, shall give you to drink 
of your own medicine ; ay, she shall dog you to the death, 
and mock you while you perish by an end of shame ! " 

" What," laughed the wizard, ** have I a rival in my own 
arts ? Nay, Hafela, if you would learn the trade, pay me 
well and I will give you lessons. Yet I counsel you not ; 
for you are flesh, nothing but flesh, and he who would rule 
the air must cultivate the spirit. Why, I tell you. Prince, 
that even the love for her who is my heart, the lady whom 
we both would wed, partaking of the flesh as, alas ! it does, 
has cost me half my powers. Now let us cease from empty 
scoldings, and strike our bargain. 

** Listen. On the last day of the feast, when all the regi- 
ments are gathered to salute the king there in his Great 
Place according to custom, you shall stand forth before the 
king and renounce Noma, and she shall pass back to the 
care of my household. You yourself shall bring her to 
where I stand, and as I take her from you I will put into 
your hand a certain powder. Then you shall return to the 
side of the king, and after our fashion shall give him to 
drink the bowl of the first-fruits ; but as you stir the beer, 
you will let fall into it that powder which I have given you. 
The king will drink, and what he leaves undrunk you will 
throw out upon the dust. 



** Now he will rise to give out to the people his royal 
decree, whereby, Prince, you are to be deposed from your 
place as heir, and your brother, Nodwengo, is to be set in 
your seat. But of that decree never a word shall pass his 
lips ; if it does, recall your saying and take back the lady 
Noma from where she stands beside me. I tell you that 
never a word will pass his lips ; for even as he rises a stroke 
shall take him, such a stroke as often falls upon the fat and 
aged, and he will sink to the ground snoring through his 
nostrils. For a while thereafter — it may be six hours, it may 
be twelve — he shall lie insensible, and then a cry will arise 
that the king is dead ! " 

" Ay," said Hafela, ** and that I have poisoned him ! " 

** Why, Prince ? Few know what is in your father's 
mind, and with those, being king, you will be able to deal. 
Also this is the virtue of the poison which I choose, that it 
is swift, yet the symptoms of it are the symptoms of a 
natural sickness. But that your safety and mine may be 
assured, I have made yet another plan, though of this there 
will be little need. You were present two days since when 
a runner came from the white man who sojourns beyond 
our border, he who seeks to teach us, the Children of Fire, 
a new faith, and gives out that he is the messenger of the 
King of heaven. This runner asked leave for the white 
rhan to visit the Great Place, and, speaking in the king's 
name, I gave him leave. But I warned his servant that if 
his master came, a sign should be required of him to show 
that he was a true man, and had of the wisdom of the King 
of Heaven ; and that if he failed therein, then that he should 
die as that white liar died who visited us in bygone years. 

" Now I have so ordered that this white man, passing 
through the Valley of Death yonder, shall reach the Great 
Place not long before the king drinks of the cup of the first- 
fruits. Then if any think that something out of nature has 
happened to the king, they will surely think also that this 
strange prayer-doctor has wrought the evil. Then also I 


will call for a sign from the white man, praying of him to 
recover the king of his sickness ; and when he fails, he 
shall be slain as a worker of spells and the false prophet ot 
a false god, and so we shall be rid of him and his new faith, 
and you shall be cleared of doubt. Is not the plan good, 
Prince ? " 

" It is very good, Hokosa — save for one thing only." 

" For what thing ? " 

** This : the white man who is named Messenger might 
chance to be a true prophet of a true God, and to recover 
the king." 

" Oho, let him do it, if he can ; but to do it, first he must 
know the poison and its antidote. There is but one, and it 
is known to me only of all men in this land. When he has 
done that, then I, yes, even I, Hokosa, will begin to inquire 
concerning this God of his, who shows Himself so mighty in 
person of His messenger." And he laughed low and scorn- 

" Prince, farewell ! I go forth alone, whither you dare not 
follow at this hour, to seek that which we shall need. One 
word — think not to play me false, or to cheat me of my 
price ; for whate'er betides, be sure of this, that hour shall 
be the hour of your dooming. Hail to you, Son of the 
King ! Hail ! and farewell." Then, removing the door- 
board, the wizard passed from the hut and was gone. 

The vision changed. Now there appeared a valley walled 
in on either side with sloping cliffs of granite ; a desolate 
place, sandy and, save for a single spring, without water, 
strewn with boulders of rock, some of them piled fantastically 
one upon the other. At a certain spot this valley widened 
out, and in the mouth of the space thus formed, midway 
between the curved lines of the receding cliffs, stood a little 
hill- or koppie, also built up of boulders. It was a place of 
death ; for all around the hill, and piled in hundreds between 
the crevices of its stones, lay the white bones of men. 


Nor was this all. Its summit was flat, and in the midst 
of it stood a huge tree. Even had it not been for the fruit 
which hung from its branches, the aspect of that tree must 
have struck the beholder as uncanny, even as horrible. The 
bark on its great bole was leprous white ; and from its gaunt 
and spreading rungs rose branches that subdivided them- 
selves again and again, till at last they terminated in round 
green fingers, springing from grey, flat slabs of bark, in 
shape not unlike that of a human palm. Indeed, from a 
little distance this tree, especially if viewed by moonlight, 
had the appearance of bearing on it hundreds or thousands 
of the arms and hands of men, all of them stretched im- 
ploringly to Heaven. 

Well might they seem so to do, seeing that to its naked 
limbs hung the bodies of at least twenty human beings who 
had suffered death by order of the king or his captains, or by 
the decree of the company of wizards, whereof Hokosa was 
the chief. There on the Hill of Death stood the Tree of 
Death ; and there in its dank shade, or piled upon the ground 
beneath it, hung and lay the pitiful remnants of the multi- 
tudes who for generations had been led thither to their doom. 

Now, in Owen's vision a man was seen approaching by the 
little pathway that ran up the side of the mount — the Road 
of Lost Footsteps it was called. It was Hokosa the wizard. 
Outside the circle of the tree he halted, and drawing a tanned 
skin from a bundle of medicines which he carried, he tied it 
about his mouth ; for the very smell of that tree is poisonous 
and must not be sutTered to reach the lungs. 

Presently he was under the branches, where once again 
he halted ; this time it was to gaze at the body of an old 
man which swung to and fro in the night breeze. 

** Ah ! friend," he muttered, ** we strove for many years, 
but it seems that I have conquered at the last. Well, it is 
just ; for if you could have had your way, your end would 
have been my end." 

Then very leisurely, as one who is sure that he will not 


be interrupted, Hokosa began to climb the tree, till at length 
some of the green fingers were within his reach. Resting 
his back against a bough, one by one he broke off several of 
them, and averting his face so that the fumes of it might 
not reach him, he caused the thick milk-white juice that they 
contained to trickle into the mouth of a little gourd which 
was hung about his neck by a string. When he had col- 
lected enough of the poison and carefully corked the gourd 
with a plug of wood, he descended the tree again. At the 
great fork where the main branches sprang from the trunk, 
he stood a while contemplating a creeping plant which ran 
up them. It was a plant of naked stem, like the tree it grew 
upon ; and, also like the tree, its leaves consisted of bunches 
of green spikes having a milky juice. 

** Strange," he said aloud, **that Nature should set the 
bane and the antidote side by side, the one twined about the 
other. Well, so it is in everything ; yes, even in the heart 
of man. Shall I gather some of this juice also? No; for 
then I might repent and save him, remembering that he has 
loved me, and thus lose her I seek, her whom I must win 
back or be withered. Let the messenger of the King of 
Heaven save him, if he can. This tree lies on his path ; 
perchance he may prevail upon its dead to tell him of the 
bane and of the antidote." And once more the wizard 
laughed mockingly. 

The vision passed. At this moment Thomas Owen, 
recovering from his swoon, lifted his head from the window- 
place. The night before him was as black as it had been, 
and behind him the little American clock was still striking 
the hour of midnight. Therefore he could not have remained 
insensible for longer than a few seconds. 

A few seconds, yet how much he had seen in them. Truly 
his want of faith had been reproved — truly he also had 
been "warned of God in a dream," — truly "his ears had 
been opened and his instruction sealed ". Hi3 soul had b^^^ 



" kept back from the pit," and his life from " perishing by 
the sword " ; and the way of the wicked had been made 
clear to him ** in a dream, in a vision of the night when 
deep sleep falleth upon men ". 

Not for nothing had he endured that agony, and not for 
nothing had he struggled in the grip of doubt. 




On the third morning from this night whereof the strange 
events have been described, an ox-waggon might have been 
seen outspanned on the hither side of those ranges of hills 
that were visible from the river. These mountains, which 
although not high are very steep, form the outer barrier 
and defence of the kingdom of the Amasuka. Within five 
hundred yards of where the waggon stood, however, a sheer 
cliffed gorge, fire-riven and water-hewn, pierced the range, 
and looking on it, Owen knew it for the gorge of his dream. 
Night and day the mouth of it was guarded by a company of 
armed soldiers, whose huts were built high on outlook places 
in the mountains, whence their keen eyes could scan the 
vast expanses of plain. A full day before it reached them, 
they had seen the white-capped waggon crawling across the 
veldt, and swift runners had reported its advent to the king 
at his Great Place. 

Back came the word of the king that the white man, with 
the waggon and his servant, were to be led on towards the 
Great Place at such speed as would bring him there in time 
for him to behold the last ceremony of the feast of first- 
fruits ; but, for the present, that the waggon itself and the 
oxen were to be left at the mouth of the gorge, in charge of 
a guard, who would be answerable for them. 

Now, on this morning the captain of the guard and his 
orderlies advanced to the waggon and stood in front of it. 
They were splendid men, armed with great spears and 
shields, and adorned with feather head-dresses and all the 


wild finery of their regiment. Owen descended from the 
waggon and came to meet them, and so for a few moments 
they remained, face to face, in silence. A strange contrast 
they presented as they stood there ; the bare-headed white 
man frail, delicate, spiritual of countenance, and the warriors 
great, grave, powerful, a very embodiment of the essence of 
untamed humanity, an incarnate presentation of the spirit of 
savage warfare. 

" How are you named. White Man ? " asked the captain. 

'* Chief, I am named Messenger." 

** The peace of the king be with you, Messenger," said 
the captain, lifting his spear. 

** The peace of God be with you, Chief," answered Owen, 
holding up his hands in blessing. 

** Who is God ? " asked the captain. 

** Chief, He is the King I serve, and His word is between 
my lips." 

" Then pass on, Messenger of God, and deliver the word 
of God your King into the ears of my king, at hia Great 
Place yonder. Pass on riding the beast you have brought 
with you, for the way is rough ; but your waggon, your 
oxen, and your servants, save this man only who is of the 
Children of Fire, must stay here in my keeping. Fear not, 
Messenger, I will hold them safe." 

** I do not fear, Chief, there is honour in your eyes." 

Some hours later, Owen, mounted on his mule, was riding 
through the gorge, a guard in front of and behind him, and 
with them carriers who had been sent to bear his baggage. 
At his side walked his disciple John, and his face was sad. 

** Why are you still afraid ? " asked Owen. 

** Ah ! father, because this is a place of fear. Here in this 
valley men are led to die ; presently you will see." 

** I have seen," answered Owen. ** Yonder where we 
shall halt is a mount, and on that mount stands a tree ; it 
is called the Tree of Death, and it stretches a thousand 


hands to Heaven, praying for mercy that does not come, 
and from its boughs there hangs fruit, a fruit of dead men — 
yes, twenty of them hang there this day.*' 

** How know you these things, my father," asked the 
man amazed, " seeing that I have never spoken to you of 
them ? " 

** Nay," he answered, ** God has spoken to me. My God 
and your God." 

Another hour passed, and they were resting by the spring 
of water, near to the shadow of the dreadful tree, for in that 
gorge the sun burned fiercely. John counted the bodies that 
swung upon it, and again looked fearfully at Owen, for there 
were twenty of them. 

** I desire to go up to that tree," Owen said to the guard. 

** As you will. Messenger," answered their leader; ** I 
have no orders to prevent you from so doing. Still," he 
added with a solemn smile, ** it is a place that few seek of 
their own will, and, because I like you well. Messenger, I 
pray it may never be my duty to lead you there of the king's 

Then Owen went up to the tree and John with him, only 
John would not pass beneath the shadow of its branches ; 
but stood by wondering, while his master bound a handker- 
chief about his mouth. 

" How did he know that the breath of the tree is poison- 
ous ?" John wondered. 

Owen walked to the bole of the tree, and breaking off some 
of the finger-like leaves of the creeper that twined about it, 
he pressed their milky juice into a little bottle that he had 
made ready. Then he returned quickly, for the sights and 
odours of the place were not to be borne. 

Outside the circle of the branches he halted, and removed 
the handkerchief from his mouth. 

'* Be of good cheer," he said to John, ** and if it should 
chance that I am called away before my words come true, 
yet remember my words. I tell you that this Tree of Death 


shall become the Tree of Life for all the children of your 
people. Look ! there above you is its sign and promise.'' 

John lifted his eyes, following the line of Owen's out- 
stretched hand, and saw this. High up upon the tree, and 
standing clear of all the other branches, was one straight, 
dead limb, and from this dead limb two arms projected at 
right angles, also dead and snapped off short. Had a car- 
penter fashioned a cross of wood and set it there, its propor- 
tions could not have been more proper and exact. It was 
very strange to find this symbol of the Christian hope towering 
above that place of human terror, and stranger still was the 
purpose which it must serve in a day to come. 

Owen and John returned to the guard in silence, and 
presently they set forward on their journey. At length, 
passing beneath a natural arch of rock, they were out of the 
Valley of Death, and before them, not five hundred paces 
away, appeared the fence of the Great Place. 

This Great Place stood upon a high plateau, in the lap of 
the surrounding hills, all of which were strongly fortified 
with schanses, pitfalls, and rough walls of stone. That 
plateau may have measured fifteen miles in circumference, 
and the fence of the town itself was about four miles in 
circumference. Within the fence and following its curve, 
for it was round, stood thousands of dome-shaped huts 
carefully set out in streets. Within these again was a stout 
stockade of timber, enclosing a vast arena of trodden earth, 
large enough to contain all the cattle of the People of Fire in 
times of danger, and to serve as a review ground for their 
impis in times of peace or festival. 

At the outer gate of the kraal there was a halt, while the 
keepers of the gate despatched a messenger to their king 
to announce the advent of the white man. Of this pause 
Owen took advantage to array himself in the surplice 
and hood which he had brought with him in readiness for 
that hour. Then he gave the mule to John to lead behind 


" What do you, Messenger ? " asked the leader of the 
guard, astonished. 

" I clothe myself in my war-dress," he answered. 

** Where then is your spear, Messenger ? " 

" Here," said Owen, presenting to his eyes a crucifix of 
ivory, most beautifully carved. 

** I perceive that you are of the family of wizards," said 
the man, and fell back. 

Now they entered the kraal and passed for three hundred 
yards or more through rows of huts, till they reached the 
gate of the stockade, which was opened to them. Once 
within it, Owen saw a wonderful sight, such a sight as few 
white men have seen. The ground of the enormous oval 
before him was not flat. Either from natural accident or by 
design it sloped gently upwards, so that the spectator, stand- 
ing by the gate or at the head of it before the house of the 
king, could take in its whole expanse, and, if his sight were 
keen enough, could see every individual gathered there. 

On the particular day of Owen's arrival it was crowded 
with regiments, twelve of them, all dressed in their different 
uniforms and bearing shields to match, not one of which was 
less than 2500 strong. At this moment the regiments were 
massed in deep lines, each battalion by itself, on either side 
of the broad roadway that ran straight up the kraal to 
where the king, his sons, his advisers and guards, together 
with the company of wizards, were placed in front of the 
royal house. 

There they stood in absolute silence, like tens of thousands 
of bronze statues, and Owen perceived that either they were 
resting or that they were gathered thus to receive him. That 
the latter was the case soon became evident, for as he 
appeared, a white spot at the foot of the slope, countless 
heads turned and myriads of eyes fastened themselves upon 
him. For an instant he was dismayed ; there was something 
terrifying in this numberless multitude of warriors, and the 
thought of the task that he had undertaken crushed his 


spirit. Then he remembered, and shaking off his fear and 
doubt, alone, save for his disciple John, holding the crucifix 
aloft, he walked slowly up the wide road towards the place 
where he guessed that the king must be. His arm was 
weary ere ever he reached it, but at length he found himself 
standing before a thickset old man, who was clad in leopard 
skins and seated upon a stool of polished wood. 

** It is the king," whispered John behind him. 

** Peace be to you," said Owen, breaking the silence. 

" The wish is good, may it be fulfilled," answered the king 
in a deep voice, sighing as he said the words. " Yet yours 
is a strange greeting," he added. ** Whence come you, 
White Man, how are you named, and what is your mission 
to me and to my people ? " 

" King, I come from beyond the sea; I am named Messenger, 
and my mission is to deliver to you the saying of God, my 
King and — yours." 

At these words a gasp of astonishment went up from those 
who stood within hearing, expecting as they did to see them 
rewarded by instant death. But Umsuka only said : — 

** * My King and yours ? ' Bold words, Messenger. 
Where then is this King to whom I, Umsuka, should bow 
the knee ? " 

** He is everywhere — in the heavens, on the earth, and 
below the earth." 

" If He is everywhere, then He is here. Show me the 
likeness of this King, Messenger." 

** Behold it," Owen answered, thrusting forward the 

Now all the great ones about the king stared at this 
figure of a dying man crowned with thorns and hanging on a 
cross, and then drew up their lips to laugh. But that laugh 
never left them ; a sudden impulse, a mysterious wave of 
feeling choked it in their throats. A sense of the strange- 
ness of the contrast between themselves in their armed 
multitudes and this one white-robed man in his loneliness 


took hold of them, and with it another sense of something 
not far removed from fear. 

** A wizard indeed," they thought in their hearts, and what 
they thought the king uttered. 

** I perceive," he said, "that you are either mad, White 
Man, or you are a prince of wizards. Mad you do not seem 
to be, for your eyes are calm, therefore, a wizard you must 
be. Well, stand behmd me : by-and-by I will hear your 
message and ask of you to show me your powers ; but 
before then there are things which I must do. Are the lads 
ready ? Ho, you, loose the bull ! " 

At the command a line of soldiers moved from the right, 
forming itself up in front of the king and his attendants, 
revealing a number of youths, of from sixteen to eighteen 
years of age, armed with sticks only, who stood in companies 
outside a massive gate. Presently this gate was opened, 
and through it, with a mad bellow, rushed a wild buffalo 
bull. On seeing them the brute halted, and for a few 
moments stood pawing the earth and tearing it with its great 
horns. Then it put down its head and charged. Instead of 
making way for it, uttering a shrill whistling sound, the 
youths rushed at the beast, striking with their sticks. 

Another instant, and one of them appeared above the 
heads of his companions, thrown high into the air, to be 
followed by a second and a third. Now the animal was 
through the throng and carrying a poor boy on its horn, 
whence presently he fell dead ; through and through the 
ranks of the regiments it charged furiously backward and 

Watching it fascinated, Owen noted that it was a point 
of honour for no man to stir before its rush ; there they stood, 
and if the bull gored them, there they fell. At length, ex- 
hausted and terrified, the brute headed back straight up the 
lane where the main body of the youths were waiting for it. 
Now it was among them, and, reckless of wounds or death, 
they swarmed about it like bees, seizing it by legs, nose, 


horns and tail, till with desperate efforts they dragged it to 
the ground and beat the life out of it with their sticks. This 
done, they formed up before the king and saluted him. 

** How many are killed ? " he asked. 

** Eight in all," was the answer, ** and fifteen gored." 

** A good bull," he said with a smile ; ** that of last year 
killed but five. Well, the lads fought him bravely. Let the 
dead be buried, the hurt tended, or, if their harms are hope- 
less, slain, and to the rest give a double ration of beer. Ho, 
now, fall back, men, and make a space for the Bees and the 
Wasps to fight in." 

Some orders were given and a great ring was formed, 
leaving an arena clear that may have measured a hundred 
and fifty yards in diameter. Then suddenly, from opposite 
sides, the two regiments, known as the Bees and the Wasps 
respectively, rushed upon each other, uttering their war- 

" I put ten head of cattle on the Bees ; who wagers on 
the Wasps ? " cried the king. 

** I, Lord," answered the Prince Hafela, stepping forward. 

*' You, Prince ! " said the king with a quick frown. 
** Well, you are right to back them, they are your own regi- 
ment. Ah ! they are at it." 

By this time the scene was that of a hell broken loose 
upon the earth. The two regiments, numbering some 5000 
men in all, had come together, and the roar of their meeting 
shields was like the roar of thunder. They were armed with 
kerries only, and not with spears, for the fight was supposed 
to be a mimic one ; but these weapons they used with such 
effect that soon hundreds of them were down dead or with 
shattered skulls and bruised limbs. Fiercely they fought, 
while the whole army watched, for their rivalry was keen 
and for many months they had known that they were to be 
pitted one against the other on this day. Fiercely they 
fought, while the captains cried their orders, and the dust 

se up in clouds as they swung to and fro, breast thrusting 


against breast. At length the end came ; the Bees began to 
give, they fell back ever more quickly till their retreat was a 
rout, and, leaving many stretched upon the ground, amid the 
mocking cries of the army they were driven to the fence, by 
touching which they obtained peace at the hands of their 

The king saw, and his somewhat heavy, quiet face grew 
alive with rage. 

" Search and see," he said, ** if the captain of the Bees is 
alive and unhurt." 

Messengers went to do his bidding, and presently they 
''^turned, bringing with them a man of magnificent appear- 
ance and middle age, whose left arm had been broken by a 
^low from a kerry. With his right hand he saluted first the 
'^gj then the Prince Nodwengo, a kindly-faced, mild-eyed 
'^^n, in whose command he was. 

*'What have you to say? " asked the king, in a cold voice 
^^ anger. ** Know you that you have cost me ten head of 
*^^ royal white cattle ? " 

** King, I have nothing to say," answered the captain 
^^Imly, ** except that my men are cowards." 

** That is certainly so," said the king. ** Let all the 
^^Ounded among them be carried away ; and for you, captain, 
^^Vio turn my soldiers into cowards, you shall die a dog's 
^^ath, hanging to-morrow on the Tree of Doom. As for 
^^^ur regiment, I banish it to the fever country, there to hunt 
^*^phants for three years, since it is not fit to fight with 

** It is well," replied the captain, '* since death is better 

■>^n shame. Only King, I have done you good service in 

^■>c past; I ask that it may be presently and by the spear." 

" So be it," said the king. 

" I crave his life, father," said the Prince Nodwengo ; " he 

^^ my friend." 

*'A prince should not choose cowards for his friends," 

^^plied the king; ** let him be killed, I say." 



Then Owen, who had been watching and listening, his 
heart sick with horror, stood forward and said : — 

** King, in the name of Him I serve, I conjure you to spare 
this man and those others that are hurt, who have done no 
crime except to be driven back by soldiers stronger than 

** Messenger," answered the king, ** I bear with you 
because you are ignorant. Know that, according to our 
customs, this crime is the greatest of crimes, for here we 
show no mercy to the conquered." 

"Yet you should do so," said Owen, "seeing that you 
also must ere long be conquered by death, and then how can 
you expect mercy who have shown none ? " 

" Let him be killed ! " said the king. 

** King ! " cried Owen once more, " do this deed, and I tell 
you that before the sun is down great evil will overtake 

** Do you threaten me. Messenger ? Well, we will see. 
Let him be killed, I say." 

Then the man was led away ; but, before he went he 
found time to thank Owen and Nodwengo the prince, and to 
call down good fortune upon them. 




Now the king's word was done, the anger went out of his 
eyes, and once more his countenance grew weary. A com- 
mand was issued, and, with the most perfect order, moving 
like one man, the regiments changed their array, forming up 
battalion upon battalion in face of the king, that they might 
give him the royal salute so soon as he had drunk the cup of 
the first-fruits. 

A herald stood forward and cried : — 

** Hearken, you Sons of Fire ! Hearken, you Children of 
Umsuka, Shaker of the Earth ! Have any of you a boon to 
ask of the king ? " 

Men stood forward, and having saluted, one by one asked 
this thing or that. The king heard their requests, and as 
he nodded or turned his head away, so they were granted or 

When all had done, the Prince Hafela came forward, 
lifted his spear, and cried : — 
•'A boon, King!" 

" What is it ? *' asked his father, eyeing him curiously. 
"A small matter, King," he replied. **A while ago I 
named a certain woman. Noma, the ward of Hokosa the 
wizard, and she was sealed to me to fill the place of my first 
wife, the queen that is to be. She passed into the House 
of the Royal Women, and, by your command. King, it was 
fixed that I should marry her according to our customs 
to-morrow, after the feast of the first-fruits is ended. King, 
^y heart is changed towards that woman ; I no longer 



desire to take her to wife, and I pray that you will order that 
she shall now be handed back to Hokosa her guardian." 

"You blow hot and cold with the same mouth, Hafela," 
said Umsuka, " and in love or war I do not like such men. 
What have you to say to this demand, Hokosa ? " 

Now Hokosa stepped forward from where he stood at the 
head of the company of wizards. His dress, like that of 
his companions, was simple, but in its way striking. On 
his shoulders he wore a cloak of shining snakeskin ; about 
his loins was a short kilt of the same material ; and round 
his forehead, arms and knees were fillets of snakeskin. At 
his side hung his pouch of medicines, and in his hand he 
held no spear,' but a wand of ivory, whereof the top was 
roughly carved so as to resemble the head of a cobra reared 
up to strike. 

** King," he said, ** I have heard the words of the prince, 
and I do not think that this insult should have been put upon 
the Lady Noma, my ward, or upon me, her guardian. Still, 
let it be, for I would not that one should pass from under 
the shadow of my house whither she is not welcome. With- 
out my leave the prince named this woman as his queen, as 
he had the right to do ; and without my leave he unnames 
her, as he has the right to do. Were the prince a common 
man, according to custom he should pay a fine of cattle to 
be held by me in trust for her whom he discards ; but this is 
a matter that I leave to you, King." 

** You do well, Hokosa," answered Umsuka, ** to leave this 
to me. Prince, you would not wish the fine that you should 
pay to be that of any common man. With the girl shall be 
handed over two hundred head of cattle. More, I will do 
justice : unless she herself consents, she shall not be put 
away. Let the Lady Noma be summoned." 

Now the face of Hafela grew sullen, and watching, Owen 
saw a swift change pass over that of Hokosa. Evidently he 
was not certain of the woman. Presently there was a stir, 
and from the gates of the royal hou«e the Lady Noma. 


appeared, attended by women, and stood before the king. 
She was a tall and lovely girl, and the sunlight flashed upon 
her bronze-hued breast and her ornaments of ivory. Her 
black hair was fastened in a knot upon her neck, her features 
were fine and small, her gait was delicate and sure as that of 
an antelope, and her eyes were beautiful and full of pride. 
There she stood before the king, looking round her like a 
^^H- Seeing her thus, Owen understood how it came about 
that she held two men so strangely different in the hollow of 
"Cr hand, for her charm was of a nature to appeal to both of 
them-— a charm of the spirit as well as of the flesh. And yet 
the face was haughty, a face that upon occasion might even 
"^ome cruel. 

** You sent for me and I am here, O King," she said, in a 
siow and quiet voice. 

''Listen, girl," answered the king. "A while ago the 

'^''ince Hafela, my son, named you as her who should be his 

^^een, whereon you were taken and placed in the House of 

^^ Royal Women, to abide the day of your marriage, which 

®*^Ould be to-morrow." 

**It is true that the prince has honoured me thus, and 
^^t you have been pleased to approve of his choice," she 
^^id, lifting her eyebrows. ** What of it, O King ? " 

**This, girl : the prince who was pleased to honour you is 

^Vr pleased to dishonour you. Here, in the presence of the 

^^Vincil and army, he prays of me to annul his sealing to 

^^Va, and to send you back to the house of your guardian, 

^Okosa the wizard." 

Noma started, and her face i^rew hard. 
*• Is it so ? " she said. " Then it would seem that I have 
^^t favour in the eyes of my lord the prince, or that some 
^ix-er woman has found it." 

** Of these matters I know nothing," replied the king ; ** but 

^^is I know, that if you seek justice you shall have it. Say 

"^t the word, and he to whom you were promised in marriage 

^^^11 take you in marriage, whether he wills or wills it wol " 



At this speech, the face of Hafela was suddenly lit up as 
with the fire of hope, while over that of Hokosa there passed 
another subtle change. The girl glanced at them both and 
was silent for a while. Her breast heaved and her white 
teeth bit upon her lip. To Owen, who noted all, it was dear 
that rival passions were struggling in her heart : the passion 
of power and the passion of love, or of some emotion which 
he did not understand. Hokosa fixed his calm eyes upon 
her with a strange intensity of gaze, and while he gazed his 
form quivered with a suppressed excitement, much as a 
snake quivers that is about to strike its prey. To the care- 
less eye there was nothing remarkable about his look and 
attitude ; to the observer it was evident that both were fiill 
of extraordinary purpose. He was talking to the girl, not 
with words, but in some secret language that he and she 
understood alone. She started as one starts who catdies 
the tone of a well-remembered voice in a crowd of strangers, 
and lifting her eyes from the ground, whither she had turned 
them in meditation, she looked up at Hokosa. 

Instantly her face began to change.' The haughtiness and 
anger went out of it, it grew troubled, the lips parted in a 
sigh. First she bent her head and body towards him, then 
without more ado she walked to where he stood and took 
him by the hand. Here, at some whispered word or sign, 
she seemed to recover herself, and again resuming die 
character of a proud offended beauty, she curtseyed to 
Umsuka, and spoke : — 

** O King, as you see, I have made my choice. I will not 
force myself upon a man who scorns me, no, not even to 
share his place and power, though it is true that I love tbem 
both. Nay, I will return to Hokosa my guardian, and to 
his wife, Zinti, who has been as my mother, and with them 
be at peace." 

*' It is well," said the king, " and perhaps, girl, your choice 
is wise ; perhaps your loss is not so great as you have 
thought. Hafela, take you the hand of Hokosa and release 

Thcf-TudialJonof Ni 


ASTo:^ r.ryo^'., and 
tili)i:n iu:>:iiA'.:oNS 

H L 


the girl back to him according to the law, promising in the 
ears of men before the first month of winter to pay him two 
hundred head of cattle as forfeit, to be held by him in trust 
for the girl." 

In a sullen voice, his lips trembling with rage, Hafela did 
as the king commanded ; and when the hands of the con- 
spirators unclasped, Owen perceived that in that of the 
prince lay a tiny packet. 

** Mix me the cup of the first-fruits, and swiftly," said the 
king again, ** for the sun grows low in the heavens, and ere 
it sinks I have words to say." 

Now a polished gourd filled with native beer was handed 
to Nodwengo, the second son of the king, and one by one 
the great councillors approached, and, with appropriate 
words, let fall into it offerings emblematic of fertility and 
increase. The first cast in a grain of corn ; the second, a 
blade of grass ; the third, a shaving from an ox's horn ; 
the fourth, a drop of water ; the fifth, a woman's hair ; 
the sixth, a particle of earth ; and so on, until every in- 
gredient was added to it that was necessary to the magic 

Then Hokosa, as chief of the medicine men, blessed the 
cup according to the ancient form, praying that he whose 
body was the heavens, whose eyes were lightning, and whose 
voice was thunder, the spirit whom they worshipped, might 
increase and multiply to them during the coming year all 
those fruits and elements that were present in the cup, and 
that every virtue which they contained might comfort the 
body of the king. 

His prayer finished, it was the turn of Hafela to play his 
part as the eldest born of the king. Kneeling over the cup 
which stood upon the ground, a spear was handed to him 
that had been made red hot in the fire. Taking the spear, 
he stabbed with it towards the four quarters of the horizon ; 
then, muttering some invocation, he plunged it into the 
bowl, stirring its contents till the iron grew black. Now he 


threw aside the spear, and lifting the bowl in both hands, he 
carried it to his father and offered it to him. 

Although he had been unable to see him drop the poison 
into the cup, a glance at Hafela told Owen that it was there ; 
for though he kept his face under control, he could not pre- 
vent his hands from twitching or the sweat from starting 
upon his brow and breast. 

The king rose, and taking the bowl, held it on high, 
saying : — 

" In this cup, which I drink on behalf of the nation, I 
pledge you, my people." 

It was the signal for the royal salute, for which each 
regiment had been prepared. As the last word left the king's 
lips, every one of the thirty thousand men present in that great 
place began to rattle his kerry against the surface of his ox- 
hide shield. At first the sound produced resembled that of 
the murmur of the sea ; but by slow and just degrees it grew 
louder and ever louder, till the roar of it was like the deepest 
voice of thunder, a sound awe-inspiring, terrible. 

Suddenly, when its volume was most, four spears were 
thrown into the air, and at this signal every man ceased to 
beat upon his shield. In the place itself there was silence, 
but from the mountains around the echoes still crashed and 
volleyed. When the last of them had died away, the king 
brought the cup to the level of his lips. Owen saw, and 
knowing its contents, was almost moved to cry out in warn- 
ing. Indeed, his arm was lifted and his mouth was open, 
when by chance he noted Hokosa watching him, and re- 
membered. To act now would be madness, his time had 
not yet come. 

The cup touched the king's lips, and at the sign from 
every throat in that countless multitude sprang the word 
" King ! " and every foot stamped upon the ground, shaking 
the solid earth. Thrice the monarch drank, and thrice this 
tremendous salute, the salute of the whole nation to its ruler, 
was repeated, each time more loudly than the last. Then 



pouring the rest of the liquor on the ground, Umsuka cast 
aside the cup, and in the midst of a silence that seemed deep 
after the crash of the great salute, he began to address the 
multitude : — « 

** Hearken, Councillors and Captains, and you, my people, 
hearken. As you know, I have two sons, calves of the 
Black Bull, princes of the land — my son Hafela, the eldest 
born, and my son Nodwengo, his half-brother " 

At this point the king seemed to grow confused. He 
hesitated, passed his hand over his eyes, then slowly and 
with difficulty repeated those words which he had already 

** We hear you, Father," cried the councillors in encourage- 
ment, as for the second time he paused. While they still 
spoke, the veins in the king's neck were seen to swell sud- 
denly, foam flecked with blood burst from his lips, and he 
fell headlong to the ground. 




For a moment there was silence, then a great cry arose — a 
cry of ** Our father is dead ! " Presently with it were mingled 
other and angrier shouts of " The king is murdered ! ** and 
** He is bewitched, the white wizard has bewitched Jhe king 1 
He prophesied evil upon him, and now he has bewitched 
him ! *' 

Meanwhile the captains and councillors formed a ring 
about Umsuka, and Hokosa bending over him examined 

'* Princes and Councillors," he said presently, " your fisither 
yet lives, but his life is like the life of a dying fire and soon 
he must be dead. This is sure, that one of two things has 
befallen him : either the heat has caused the blood to b6il in 
his veins and he is smitten with a stroke from heaven, such 
as men who are fat and heavy sometimes die of; or he has 
been bewitched by a wicked wizard. Yonder stands one," 
and he pointed to Owen, ** who not an hour ago prophesied 
that before the sun was down great evil should overtake the 
king. The sun is not yet down, and great evil has overtaken 
him. Perchance, Princes and Councillors, this white prophet 
can tell us of the matter." 

'* Perchance I can," answered Owen calmly. 

** He admits it ! " cried some. ** Away with him ! " 

** Peace ! " said Owen, holding the crucifix towards those 
whose spears threatened his life. 

They shrank back, for this symbol of a dying man terrified 
them who could not guess its significance. 





K L 


** Peace," went on Owen, *' and listen. Be sure of this, 
Councillors, that if I die, your king will die ; whereas if I 
live, your king may live. You ask me of this matter. 
Where shall I begin ? Shall I begin with the tale of two 
men seated together some nights ago in a hut so dark that 
no eyes could see in it, save perchance the eyes of a wizard ? 
What did they talk of in that hut, and who were those 
men ? They talked, I think, of the death of a king and of 
the crowning of a king. They talked of a price to be paid 
for a certain medicine ; and one of them had a royal air, and 
one " 

"Will ye hearken to this wild babbler while your king 
lies dying before your eyes ? " broke in Hokosa, in a shrill, 
unnatural voice ; for almost palsied with fear as he was at 
Owen's mysterious words, he still retained his presence of 
mind. ** Listen now : what is he, and what did he say ? 
He is one who comes hither to preach a new faith to us ; 
he comes, he says, on an embassy from the King of Heaven, 
who has power over all things, and who, so these white men 
preach, can give power to His servants. Well, let this one 
cease prating and show us his strength, as he has been 
warned he would be called upon to do. Let him give us 
a sign. There before you lies your king, and he is past the 
help of man ; even I cannot help him. Therefore, let this 
messenger cure him, or call upon his God to cure him ; that 
seeing, we may know him to be a true messenger, and one 
sent by that King of whom he speaks. Let him do this 
now before our eyes, or let him perish as a wizard who has 
bewitched the king. Do you hear my words, Messenger, 
and can you draw this one back from between the Gates of 
Death ? " 

" I hear them,*' answered Owen quietly , and I can — or if 
I cannot, then I am willing to pay the penalty with my life. 
You who are a doctor say that your king is* as one who is 
already dead, so that whatever I may do I cannot hurt him 
further. Therefore I ask this of you, that you stand rou.pA 


and watch, but molest me neither by word nor deed while 
I attempt his cure. Do you consent ? " 

** It is just ; we consent," said the councillors. " Let us 
see what the white man can do, and by the issue let him be 
judged." But Hokosa stared at Owen wondering, and made 
no answer. 

" Bring some clean water to me in a gourd," said Owen. 

It was brought and given to him. He looked round, 
searching the faces of those about him. Presently his eye 
fell upon the Prince Nodwengo, and he beckoned to him, 
saying : — 

" Come hither, Prince, for you are honest, and I would 
have you to help me, and no other man." 

The prince stepped forward and Owen gave him the gourd 
of water. Then he drew out the little bottle wherein he had 
stored the juice of the creeper, and uncorking it, he bade 
Nodwengo fill it up with water. This done, he clasped his 
hands, and lifting his eyes to heaven, he prayed aloud in the 
language of the Amasuka. 

"0 God," he prayed, "upon whose business I am here, 
grant, I beseech Thee, that by Thy Grace power may be 
given to me to work this miracle in the face of these people, 
to the end that I may win them to cease from their iniquities, 
to believe upon Thee, the only true God, and to save their 
souls alive. Amen." 

Having finished his prayer, he took the bottle and shook 
it ; then he commanded Nodwengo to sit upon the ground 
and hold his father's head upon his knee. Now, as all might 
see by many signs, the king was upon the verge of death, 
for his lips were purple, his breathing was rare and stertorous, 
and his heart stood well-nigh still. 

*• Open his mouth and hold down the tongue," said 

The prince obeyed, pressing down the tongue with a snufiF 
spoon. Then placing the neck of the bottle as far into the 
throat as it would reach, Owen poured the fluid it contained 


fnto the body of the king, who made a convulsive movement 
a.nd instantly seemed to die. 

" He is dead," said one ; ** away with the false prophet ! " 

" It may be so, or it may not be so," answered Owen. 
* Wait for the half of an hour ; then, if he shows no sign of 
i fe, do what you will with me." 

" It is well," they said ; " so be it." 

Slowly the minutes slipped by, while the king lay like a 

^rpse before them, and outside of that silent ring the soldiers 

nurmured as the wind. The sun was sinking fast, and 

■^okosa watched it, counting the seconds. At length he 

^ poke : — 

" The half of the hour that you demanded is dead, White 
Man, as dead as the king ; and now the time has come for 
'"ou to die also," and he stretched out his hand to take him. 

Owen looked at his watch and replied : — 

"There is still another minute; and you, Hokosa, who 
^re skilled in medicines, may know that this antidote does 
lot work so swiftly as the bane." 

The shot was a random one, but it told, for Hokosa fell 
back and was silent. 

The seconds passed on as the minute hand of the watch 
went round from ten to twenty, from twenty to thirty, from 
thirty to forty. A few more instants and the game was 
played. Had that dream of his been vain imagining, and 
^as all his faith nothing but a dream wondered Owen ? 
Well, if so, it would be best that he should die. But he did 
not believe that it was so ; he believed that the Power above 
him would intervene to save — not him, indeed, but all this 

** Let us make an end," said Hokosa, '* the time is done." 

" Yes," said Owen, ** the time is done — and the king 

Even as he spoke the pulses in the old man's forehead 
were seen to throb, and the veins of his neck to swell as 
they had swollen after he had swallowed the poison ; then 



once more they shrank to their natural size. Umsuka stirred 
a hand, groaned, sat up, and spoke : — 

" What has chanced to me ? " he said. " I have descended 
into deep darkness, now once again I see light." 

No one answered, for all were staring, terrified and 
amazed, at the Messenger — the white wizard to whom had. 
been given power to bring men back from the gate of death - 
At length Owen said : — 

** This has chanced to you. King : that evil which IT 
prophesied to you if you refused to listen to the voice o 
mercy has fallen upon you. By now you would have bee 
dead, had it not pleased Him Whom I serve, workin 
through me, His messenger, to bring you back to look upon 
the sun. Thank Him, therefore, and worship Him, for He 
alone is Master of the Earth," and he held the crucifix before 
his eyes. 

The humbled monarch lifted his hand — he who for many 
years had made obeisance to none — and saluted the symbol-, 
saying : — 

*' Messenger, I thank Him and I worship Him, though K 
know Him not. Say now, how did His magic work upo 
me to make me sick to death and to recover me ? " 

** By the hand of man. King, and by the virtues that li 
hid in Nature. Did you not drink of a cup, and were not:^ 
many things mixed in the draught ? Was it not but now«^ 
in your mind to speak words that should bring down th^ 
head of pride and evil, and lift up the head of truth an(^ 
goodness ? " 

** O White Man, how know you these things ? " gaspec^ 
the king. 

** I know them, it is enough. Say, who was it that stirrecS- 
the bowl, King, and who gave you to drink ? " 

Now Umsuka staggered to his feet, and cried aloud in ^- 
voice that was thick with rage : — 

** By my head and the heads of my fathers I smell th^ 
plot! My son, the Prince Hafela, had learned my counsel* 


and would have slain me before I said words that should set 
him beneath the feet of Nodwengo. Seize him, captains, 
and let him be brought before me for judgment ! '* 

Men looked this way and that to carry out the command 
of the king, but Hafela was gone. Already he was upon the 
hillside, running as a man has rarely run before — his face 
Bet towards that fastness in the mountains where he could 
find refuge among his mother's tribesmen and the regiments 
«¥hich he commanded. Of late they had been sent thither by 
fche king that they might be far from the Great Place when 
fcheir prince was disinherited. 

** He is fled," said one ; ** I saw him go." 

*' Pursue him and bring him back, dead or alive ! " 
thundered the king. ** A hundred head of cattle to the man 
^ho lays hand upon him before he reaches the impi of the 
^orth, for they will fight for him ! " 

** Stay ! " broke in Owen. " Once before this day I prayed 
©f you, King, to show mercy, and you refused it. Will you 
Tefuse me a second time ? Leave him his life who has lost 
all else." 

" That he may rebel against me ? Well, White Man, I 
owe you much, and for this time your wisdom shall be my 
guide, though my heart speaks against such gentleness. 
Hearken, councillors and people, this is my decree : that 
Hafela, my son, who would have murdered me, be deposed 
from his place as heir to my throne, and that Nodwengo, 
his brother, be set in that place, to rule the People of Fire 
after me when I die." 

"It is good, it is just!" said the council. *' Let the 
king's word be done." 

•; Hearken again," said Umsuka. " Let this white man, 
who is named Messenger, be placed in the House of Guests 
and treated with all honour ; iet oxen be given him from the 
royal herds and corn from the granaries, and girls of noble 
blood for wives if he wills them. Hokosa, into vour hand 
I deliver him, and, great though you are, know this, that if 


jSr. I III W I/AUD. 

but a hair of his head is harmed, with your goods and your 
life you shall answer for it, you and all your house." 

** Let the king's word be done," said the councillor& 

** Heralds," went on Umsuka, ** proclaim that the feasC: 
of the first-fruits is ended, and my command is that every^ 
regiment should seek its quarters, taking with it a double? 
gift of cattle from the king, who has been saved alive by th^ 
magic of this white man. And now, Messenger, farewell^ 
for my head grows heavy. To-morrow I will speak wit 

Then the king was led away into the royal house, an 
save those who were quartered in it, the regiments passe 
one by one through the gates of the kraal, singing their war 
song as they went. Darkness fell upon the Great Place 
and through it parties of men might be seen dragging thenc( 
the corpses of those who had fallen in the fight with sticks 
or been put to death thereafter by order of the king. 

** Messenger," said Hokosa, bowing before Owen, ** b 
pleased to follow me." Then he led him to a little kraa^ 
numbering five or six large and beautifully made huts .^ 
which stood by itself, within its own fence, at the north en 
of the Great Place, not far from the house of the king. I 
front of the centre hut a fire was burning, and by its ligh 
women appeared cleaning out the huts and bringing fooc^ 
and water. 

** Here you may rest in safety. Messenger," said Hokosa ^ 
** seeing that night and day a guard from the king's owr^ 
regiment will stand before your doors." 

** I do not need them," answered Owen, ** for none 
harm me till my hour comes. I am a stranger here and yo 
are a great man ; yet, Hokosa, which of us is the safest thi ^ 
night ? " 

** Your meaning ? " said Hokosa sharply. 

** O man ! " answered Owen, ** when in a certain houm^ 
you crept up the valley yonder, and climbing the Tree of 


Death gathered its poison, went I not with you ? When, 
before that hour, you sat in yonder hut bargaining with the 
Prince Hafela — the death of a king for the price of a girl — 
was I not with you ? Nay, threaten me not — in your own 
words I say it — * lay down that assegai, or by my spirit 
your body shall be thrown to the kites, as that of one who 
would murder the king ' — and the king's guest ! " 

** White Man," whispered Hokosa throwing down the 
spear, *' how can these things be ? I was alone in the 
hut with the prince, I was alone beneath the Tree of Doom, 
and you, as I know well, were beyond the river. Your spies 
must be good. White Man." 

** My spirit is my only spy, Hokosa. My spirit watched 
you, and from your own lips he learned the secret of the 
bane and of the antidote. Hafela mixed the poison as you 
taught him ; I gave the remedy, and saved the king alive." 

Now the knees of Hokosa grew weak beneath him, and 
he leaned against the fence of the kraal for support. 

"I have skill in the art," he said hoarsely; ''but. Mes- 
senger, your magic is more than mine, and my life is forfeit 
to you. To-morrow morning, you will tell the king all, and 
to-morrow night I shall hang upon the dreadful Tree. Well, 
so be it ; I am overmatched at my own trade, and it is best 
that I should die. You have plotted well and you have 
conquered, and to you belong my place and power." 

** It was you who plotted, and not I, Hokosa. Did you 
not contrive that I should reach the Great Place but a little 
before the poison was given to the king, so that upon me 
might be laid the crime of his bewitching ? Did }ou not 
plan also that I should be called upon to cure him — a thing 
you deemed impossible — and when I failed that I should be 
straightway butchered ? " 

" Seeing that it is useless to lie to you, I confess that it 
was so/' answered Hokosa boldly. 

** It was so," repeated Owen ; ** therefore, according to 
your law your life is forfeit, seeing that you dug a pit to 


snare the innocent feet. But I come to tell you of a new 
law, and that which I preach I practise. Hokosa, I pardon 
you, and if you will put aside your evil-doing, I promise 
you that no word of all your wickedness shall pass my lips/' 

** It has not been my fashion to take a boon at the hand 
of any man, save of the king only," said the wizard in a 
humble voice ; ** but now it seems that I am come to this. 
Tell me, White Man, what is the payment that you seek 
of me ? " 

** None, Hokosa, except that you cease from evil and 
listen with an open heart to that message which I am 
sworn to deliver to you and to all your nation. Also you 
would do well to put away that fair woman whose price was 
the murder of him that fed you." 

" I cannot do it," answered the wizard. " I will listen .to 
your teaching, but I will not rob my heart of her it craves 
alone. White Man, I am not like the rest of my nation. 
I have not sought after women ; I have but one wife, and she 
is old and childless. Now, for the first time in my days, 
I love this girl — ah, you know not how ! — ^and I will take 
her, and she shall be the mother of my children." 

** Then, Hokosa, you will take her to your sorrow," 
answered Owen solemnly, '* for she will learn to hate you 
who have robbed her of royalty and rule, giving her 
wizardries and your grey hairs in place of them." 

And thus for that night they parted. 




On the following day, while Owen sat eating his morning 
meal with a thankful heart, a messenger arrived saying that 
the king would receive him whenever it pleased him to 
come. He answered that he would be with him before 
noon, for already he had learned that among natives one 
loses little by delay. A great man, they think, is rich in 
time, and hurries only to wait upon his superiors. 

At the appointed hour a guard came to lead him to the 
royal house, and thither Owen went, followed by John bear- 
ing a Bible. Umsuka was seated beneath a reed roof 
supported by poles and open on all sides ; behind him stood 
councillors and attendants, and by him were Nodwengo the 
prince, and Hokosa, his mouth and prophet. Although the 
day was hot, he wore a kaross or rug of wild catskins, and 
his face showed that the effects of the poisoned draught 
were still upon him. At the approach of Owen he rose 
with something of an effort, and, shaking him by the hand, 
thanked him for his life, calling him •• doctor of doctors '*, 
** Tell me. Messenger," he added, '* how it was that you 
were able to cure me, and who were in the plot to kill me ? 
There must have been more than one," and he rolled his 
eyes round with angry suspicion. 

** King," answered Owen, ** if I knew anything of this 
n:iatter, the Power that wrote it on my mind has wiped it 
Out again, or, at the least, has forbidden me to speak of its 
Siecret. I saved you, it is enough ; for the rest, the past is the 
past, and I come to deal with the present and the future." 


** This white man keeps his word," thought Hokosa to 
himself, and he looked at him thanking him with his eyes. 

'• So be it," answered the king; ** after all, it is wise not 
to stir a dung-heap, for there we find little beside evil odours 
and the nests of snakes. Now, what is your business with 
me, and why do you come from the white man's countries to 
visit me ? I have heard of those countries, they are g^eat 
and far away. I have heard of the white men also — wonder- 
ful men who have all knowledge ; but I do not desire to 
have anything to do with them, for whenever they meet 
black people they eat them up, taking their lands and mak- 
ing them slaves. Once, some years ago, two of you white 
people visited us here, but perhaps you know that stor)\'* 

** I know it," answered Owen; "one of those men you 
murdered, and the other you sent back with a message 
which he delivered into my ears across the waters, thousands 
of miles away." 

" Nay," answered the king, ** we did not murder him ; he 
came to us with the story of a new God who could raise the 
dead and work other miracles, and gave such powers to His 
servants. So a man was slain and we begged of him to 
bring him back to life; and since he could not, we killed him 
also because he was a liar." 

** He was no liar," said Owen ; '* since he never told you 
that he had power to open the mouth of the grave. Still, 
Heaven is merciful, and although you murdered him that 
was sent to you, his Master has chosen me to follow in his 
footsteps. Me also you may murder if you will, and then 
another and another ; but still the messengers shall come, 
till at last your ears are opened and you listen. Only, for 
such deeds your punishment must be heavy." 

** What is the message, White Man ? " 

** A message of peace, of forgiveness, and of life beyond 
the grave, of life everlasting. Listen, King. Yesterday 
you were near to death ; say now, had you stepped over the 
edge of itj where would you be this day ? " 


Umsuka shrugged his shoulders. "With my fathers, 
White Man." 

** And where are your fathers ? " 

" Nay, I know not — nowhere, everywhere : the night is 
Full of them ; in the night we hear the echo of their voices. 
When they are angry they haunt the thunder-cloud, and 
Mrhen they are pleased they smile in the sunshine. Some- 
times also they appear in the shape of snakes, or visit us in 
dreams, and then we offer them sacrifice. Yonder on the 
hillside is a haunted wood ; it is full of their spirits. White 
l^an, but they cannot talk, they only mutter, and their foot- 
falls sound like the dropping of heavy rain, for they are 
Btrengthless and unhappy, and in the end they fade away." 
" So you say," answered Owen, " who are not altogether 
^thout understanding, yet know little, never having been 
taught. Now listen to me," and very earnestly he preached 
"to him and those about him of peace, of forgiveness, and of 
life everlasting. 

" Why should a God die miserably upon a cross ? " asked 
the king at length. , 

"That through His sacrifice men might become as gods," 

answered Owen. *' Believe in Him and He will save you." 

** How can we do that," asked the king again, "when 

already we have a god ? Can we desert one god and set up 

another ? " 

"What god. King?" 

" I will show him to you. White Man. Let my litter be 

The litter was brought and the king entered it with labour- 
ing breath. Passing through the north gate of the Great 
Place, the party ascended a slope of the hill that lay beyond 
it till they reached a flat plain some hundreds of yards in 
width. On this plain vegetation grew scantily, for here the 
bed rock of ironstone, denuded with frequent and heavy 
rains, was scarcely hidden by a thin crust of earth. On the 
further side of the plain, however, and separated from it by 

292 THi: WIZARD. 

a little stream, was a green bank of deep soft soil, beyond 
which lay a gloomy valley full of great trees, that for many 
generations had been the burying-place of the kings of the 

** This is the house of the god," said the king. 
*• A strange house.** answered Owen, " and where is he 
that dwells in it ? '* 

** Follow me and I will show you. Messenger ; but be swift, 
for already the sky grows dark with coming tempest ? " 

Now at the king s command the bearers bore him across 
the sere plateau towards a stone that lay almost in its 
centre. Presently they halted, and, pointing to this mass, 
the king said : — 
*' Behold the god I ' 

Owen advanced and examined the object. A glance told 
him that this god of the Amasuka was a meteoric stone of 
unusual si/e. Most of such stones are mere shapeless lumps, 
but this one bore a peculiar resemblance to a seated human 
being holding up one arm towards the sky. So strange was 
this likeness that, other reasons apart, it seemed not wonder- 
ful that savages should regard the thing with awe and 
veneration. Rather would it have been wonderful had they 
not done so. 

•• Say now," said Owen to the king when he had inspected 
the stone, " what is the history of this dumb god of yours, 
and why do you worship him ? ' 

" I*\)llow me across the stream and I will tell you. 
Messenger,*' answered the king, again glancing at the sky. 
** The storm gathers, and when it breaks none are safe upon 
this plain except the heaven doctors such as Hokosa and his 
compianions who can bind the lightning." 

So they went and when they reached the further side of 
the stream Umsuka descended from his litter. 

'* Messenger. ' he said. ** this is the story of the god as it 

come down to us. From the beginning our land has 

scourged with lightning above all other lands, and with 

Tir. : :: ' yohk 
PlIiLiC lib:iai{y 

11 L 


ioods of rain that accompany the lightning. In the old 
the Great Place of the king was out yonder among the 
itains, bat every year fire from heaven fell upon it, 
Dying much people : and at length in a great tempest 
ouse of the king of that day was smitten and burned, 
tiis wives and children were turned to ashes. Then 
dng held a council of his wizards and Rre-doctors, and 

having consulted the spirits of their forefathers, retired 
I place apart to fast and pray ; yes, it was in yonder 
r, the burying-ground of kings, that they hid themselves, 
on the third night the God of Fire appeared to the 
of the doctors in his sleep, and he was shaped like a 
ig brand and smoke went up from him. Out of the 
5 he spoke to the doctor, saying : * For this reason it is 

tornient your people, because they hate me and curse 

and pay me little honour '. 

1 his dream the doctor answered : * How can the people 
ir a god that they do not see ? ' Then the god said : 

up now in the night, all the company of you, and go 
rouT stand upon the banks of yonder stream, and I will 
own in fire from heaven, and there on the plain you 
find my image*! Then let your king move his Great 

into the valley beneath the plain, and henceforth my 

shall spare it and him. Only, month by month you 
make prayers and offerings to me ; moreover, the name 
t people shall be changed, for it shall be called the 
le of Fire.' 

low the doctor rose, and having awakened his com- 
ns, he told them of his vision. Then they all of them 
down to the banks of this stream where we now stand. 
as they waited there a great tempest burst over them, 
n the midst of that tempest they saw the flaming figure 
man descend from heaven, and when be touched the 

it shook. The morning came and there upon the plain 
e them, where there had been nothing, sat the likeness 
e god as it sits to-day and shall sit for ever. So the 


name of this people was changed, and the king's Great PI 
was built where it now is. 

*' Since that day, Messenger, no hut has been burned i 
no man killed in or about the Great Place by Rre fr 
heaven, which falls only here where the god is, though av 
among the mountains and elsewhere men are sometir 
killed. But wait a while and you shall see with your e) 
Hokosa, do you, whom the lightning will not touch, t 
that pole of dead wood and set it up yonder in the crevice 
the rock not far from the figure of the god." 

** I obey," said Hokosa, ** although I have brought 
medicines with me. Perhaps," he added with a faint sm 
" the white man, who is so great a wizard, will not be afr 
to accompany me." 

Now Owen saw that all those present were looking at h 
curiously. It was evident they believed that he would i 
dare to accept the challenge. Therefore he answered at oi 
and without hesitation : — 

** Certainly I will come ; the pole is heavy for one man 
carry, and where Hokosa goes, there I can go also." 

" Nay, nay, Messenger," said the king, *' the lightni 
knows Hokosa and will turn from him, but you are 
stranger to it and it will eat you up." 

** King," answered Owen, ** I do not believe that Hoke 
has any power over the lightning. It may strike him 
it may strike me ; but unless my God so commands, it v 
strike neither of us." 

** On your head be it, White Man," said Hokosa, with c 
anger. " Come, aid me with the pole." 

Then they lifted the dead tree, and between them carr 
it into the middle of the plain, where they set it up ir 
crevice of the rock. By this time the storm was aln» 
over them, and watching it Owen perceived that the lig 
nings struck always along the bank of the stream, doubtl 
following a hidden line of the bed of ironstone. 

** It is but a very little storm," said Hokosa Qontemptuoims 


*' such as visit us almost every afternoon at this period of the 

year. Ah ! White Man, I would that you could see one of 

our great tempests, for these are worth beholding. This 

J fear, however, that you will never do, seeing it is likely that 

wthin some few minutes you will have passed back to that 

King who sent you here, with a hole in your head and a black 

'nark down your spine." 

*' That we shall learn presently, Hokosa," answered Owen ; 
for my part, I pray that no such fate may overtake you." 
Now Hokosa moved himself away, muttering and pointing 
^vith his fingers, but Owen remained standing within about 
^^^irty yards of the pole. Suddenly there came a glare of 
"gr^it, and the pole was split into fragments ; but although 
^he shock was perceptible, they remained unhurt. Almost 
*rn mediately a second flash leaped from the cloud, and 
Owen saw Hokosa stagger and fall to his knees. ** The 
'na^n is struck," he thought to himself, but it was not so, 
*^r recovering his balance, the wizard walked back to the 

Owen never stirred. From boyhood courage had been one 
^^ his good qualities, but it was a courage of the spirit rather 
tha.11 of the flesh. For instance, at this very moment, so far 
^s his body was concerned, he was much afraid, and did not 
\^ the least enjoy standing upon an ironstone plateau at the 
^^rninent risk of being destroyed by lightning. But even if 
"^ had not had an end to gain, he would have scorned to 
give way to his human frailties ; also, now as always, his 
*^ith supported him. As it happened the storm, which was 
®"6rht, passed by, and no more flashes fell. When it was 
^ver he walked back to where the king and his court were 

"Messenger," said Umsuka, "you are not only a great 

^ctor, you are also a brave man, and such I honour. There 

® Ho one among us here, not being a lord of the lightning, 

^^ would have dared to stand upon that place with Hokosa 

^*le the flashes fell about him. Yet you have done it ; it 


was Hokosa who was driven away. You have passed ^^^ 
trial by fire, and henceforth, whether we refuse your messa-S^ 
or accept it, you are great in this land." 

** There is no need to praise me. King," answered 0^v^^: 
**The risk is something; but I knew that I was protect:^^ 
from it, seeing that I shall not die until my hour comes, ^-^^^ 
it is not yet. Listen now : your god yonder is nothing b"^^ 
2L stone such as I have often seen before, for sometimes ^^ 
great tempests they come to earth from the clouds. You 
not the first people that have worshipped such a stone, 
now we know better. Also this plain before you is full ^ 
iron, and iron draws the lightning. That is why it ne"^^^^ 
strikes your town below. The iron attracts it more stron ^^ ^ 
than earth and huts of straw. Again, while the pole stoc^^^ 
was in little danger, for the lightning strikes the high. ^^^^ 
thing; but after the pole was shattered and Hokosa wis-^^*^ 
went away, then I was in some danger, only no flashes f^^^**' 
I am not a magician, King, but I know some things that y^ ^^^ 
do not know, and I trust in One whom I shall lead you *^ 
trust in also." 

** We will talk of this more hereafter," said the k£ ^""^ ^ 
hurriedly, ** for one day, I have heard and seen enouj 

Also I do not believe your words, for I have noted ever \Y^^ ^ 
those who are the greatest wizards of all say continually th"* ^ 
they have no magic power. Hokosa, you have been famc^"*--^ 
in your day, but it seems that henceforth you who have J.^^ 
must follow." 

"The battle is not yet fought. King," answered Hoko^^*^' 
«* To-day I met the lightnings without my medicines, ancE 
was a little storm ; when I am prepared with my medicir"*^^ 
and the tempest is great, then I will challenge this wh***^^ 
man to face me yonder, and then in that hour my god sh^^-^" 
show his strength and hh God shall not be able to s^i-"^^ 

'* That we shall see when the time comes," answered O^*^^*'' 
with a smile. 

1 HI" !■ Il:^ I 1 l:l \I l;\ I lui . '.T 

That night as Owen sat in his hut working at the transla- 
tion of St. John, the door was opened and Hokosa entered. 

** White Man," said the wizard, "you are too strong for 
'Jie, though whence you have your power I know not. Let 
^s make a bargain. Show me your magic and I will show 
you mine, and we will rule the land between us. You and 

* are much akin — we are great ; we have the spirit sight ; 
^^e know that there are things beyond the things we see and 
"Car and feel ; whereas, for the rest, they are fools, following 
^he flesh alone. I have spoken." 

** Very gladly will I show you my magic, Hokosa," 
answered Owen cheerfully, ** since, to speak truth, though 

* know you to be wicked, and guess that you would be glad 

^o l>e rid of me by fair means or foul ; yet I have taken a 

1*1* . • 

***^ing for you, seeing in you one who from a sinner may 

STow into a saint. 

** This then is my magic : To love God and serve man ; 
^^ eschew wizardry, wealth and power ; to seek after holi- 
*^^ss, poverty and humility ; to deny your flesh, and to make 
^''oiirself small in the sight of men, that so perchance you 
^^^y grow great in the sight of Heaven and save your soul 
^Uve. ' 

••I have no stomach for that lesson," said Hokosa. 

**Yet you shall live to hunger for it," answered Owen. 
''^i^d the wizard went away angered but wondering. 




Now, day by day for something over a month Owen preached 
the Gospel before the king, his councillors, and hundreds of 
the head men of the nation. They listened to him attentively, 
debating the new doctrine point by point ; for although they 
might be savages, these people were very keen-witted and 
subtle. Very patiently did Owen sow, and at length to his 
infinite joy he also gathered in his first-fruit. One night as 
he sat in his hut labouring as usual at the work of translation, 
wherein he was assisted by John whom he had taught to 
read and write, the Prince Nodwengo entered and greeted 
him. F'or a while he sat silent watching the white man at 
his task, then he said : — 

" Messenger, I have a boon to ask of you. Can you teach 
me to understand those signs which you set upon the paper, 
and to make them also as does John your servant ? " 

" Certainly," answered Owen ; ** if you will come to me at 
noon to-morrow, we will begin." 

The prince thanked him, but he did not go away. Indeed, 
from his manner Owen guessed that he had something more 
upon his mind. At length it came out 

** Messenger," he said, **you have told us of baptism 
whereby we are admitted into the army of your King ; say, 
have you the power of this rite ? " 

** I have." 

'* And is your servant here baptised ? " 

•• He is." 

'Ill 1 < I:I-I-. Jr;.y 

i 4 '1"! 

* Then if he who is a common man can be baptised, why 
'T^ay not I who am a prince ? " 

** In baptism," answered Owen, ** there is no distinction 
between the highest and the .lowest ; but if you believe, then 
^He door is open and through it you can join the company of 

* * Messenger, I do believe," answered the prince humbly. 

Then Owen was very joyful, and that same night, with 

J^lin for a witness, he baptised the prince, giving him the 

'^^'W name of Constantine, after the first Christian emperor. 

On the following day Nodwengo, in the presence of Owen, 

^^Ho on this point would suffer no concealment, announced 

^^ the king that he had become a Christian. Umsuka heard, 

^nd for a while sat silent. Then he said in a troubled voice : — 

** Truly, Messenger, in the words of that Book from which 

you read to us, I fear that you have come hither to bring. 

Hot peace but a sword '. Now when the witch-doctors and 

^he priests of fire learn this, that he whom I have chosen 

to succeed me has become the servant of another faith, they 

^ill stir up the soldiers and there will be civil war. I pray 

you, therefore, keep the matter secret, at anyrate for a while, 

Seeing that the lives of many are at stake." 

** In this, my father," answered the prince, ** I must do as 
the Messenger bids me ; but if you desire it, take from me 
the right of succession and call back my brother from the 
northern mountains." 

•* That by poison or the spear he may put all of us to 
death, Nodwengo I Be not afraid ; ere long when he learns 
all that is happening here, your brother Hafela will come 
from the northern mountains, and the spears of his impis 
Bhall be countless as the stars of the sky. Messenger, you 
desire to draw us to the arms of your God — and myself, I am 
at times minded to follow the path of my son Nodwengo and 
Seek a refuge there — but say, will they be strong enough to 
protect us from Hafela and the warriors of the north ? 
Already he gathers his clans, and already my captains desert 



to him. By-and-by, in the spring-time — may I be dead 
before the day — he will roll down upon us like a flood of 
water " 

*'To fall back like waters from a wall of rock," answered 
Owen. *' * Let not your heart be troubled,' for my Master 
can protect His servants, and He will protect you. But 
first you must confess Him openly, as your son has done." 

** Nay, I am too old to hurry," said the king with a sigh. 
'* Your tale seems full of promise to one who is near the 
grave ; but how can I know that it is more than a dream ? 
And shall I abandon the worship of my fathers and change, 
or strive to change, the customs of my people to follow 
after dreams ? Nodwengo has chosen his part, and I do 
not blame him ; yet, for the present I beseech you both to 
keep silence on this matter, lest to save bloodshed I should 
be driven to side against you." 

** So be it. King," said Owen ; ** but I warn you that 
Truth has a loud voice, and that it is hard to hide the shining 
of a light in a dark place, nor does it please my Lord to be 
denied by those who confess Him." 

** I am weary," replied the old king, and they saluted him 
and went. 

In obedience to the wish of Umsuka his father, the con- 
version of Nodwengo was kept secret, and yet — none knew 
how — the thing leaked out. Soon the women in their huts, 
and the soldiers by their watch-fires, whispered it in each 
other's ears that he who was appointed to be their future 
ruler had become a servant of the unknown God. That he 
had forsworn war and all the delights of men ; that he would 
take but one wife and appear before the army, not in the 
uniform of a general, but clad in a white robe, and carry, 
not the broad spear, but a cross of wood. Swiftly the strange 
story flew from mouth to mouth, yet it was not altogether 
believed till it chanced that one day when he was reviewing 
a regiment, a soldier who was drunk with beer openly insulted 
the prince, calling him '* a coward who worshipped a coward '\ 


ow men held their breaths, waiting to see this fool led 
awa^y to die by torture of the ant-heap or some other dreadful 
doom. But the prince only answered : — 

* * Soldier, you are drunk, therefore I forgive you your 
words. Whether He Whom you blaspheme will forgive 
yoia, I know not. Get you gone!" 

The warriors stared and murmured, for by those words, 
wittingly or unwittingly, their general had confessed his 
fai^bi, and that day they made ribald songs about him in 
the camp. But on the morrow when they learned how that 
the man whom the prince spared had been seized by a lion 
and taken away as he sat at night with his companions in 
the bivouac, his mouth full of boasting of his own courage 
>" c>ffenng insult to the prince and the new faith, then they 
loolced at each other askance and said little more of the 
n^^t^ter. Doubtless it was chance, and yet this Spirit Whom 
the Messenger preached was one of Whom it seemed wisest 
"^"t to speak lightly. 

^ut still the trouble grew, for by now the witch-doctors, 
^*^H Hokosa at the head of them, were frightened for their 
Pl^Oe and power, and fomented it both openly and in secret, 
^^ ^he women they asked what would become of them when 
'"^ri were allowed to take but one wife ? Of the heads of 
*^^^^ls, how they would grow wealthy when their daughters 
cea.^^d to be worth cattle ? Of the councillors and generals, 
no\v the land could be protected from its foes when they 
were commanded to lay down the spear. Of the soldiers, 
w'^Ose only trade was war, how it would please them to till 
^"^ fields like girls ? Dismay took hold of the nation, and 
*|^Hough they were much loved, there was open talk of 
*^"ling or driving away the king and Nodwengo who 
lavoured the white man, and of setting up Hafela in their 

^t length the crisis came, and in this fashion. The 

'^^suka, like many other African tribes, had a strange 

^^'^^ration for certain varieties of snakes which they declared 


to be possessed by the spirits of their ancestors. It was 
law among them that if one of these snakes entered a kr^ 
it must not be killed, or even driven away, under pain 
death, but must be allowed to share with the human oc^ 
pants any hut that it might select. As the result of ti 
enforced hospitality deaths from snake-bite were numer^ 
among the people ; but when they happened in a kraal 
owners met with little sympathy, for the doctors explaisr: 
that the real cause of them was the anger of some ances'K 
spirit towards his descendants. Now, before John was < 
spatched to instruct Owen in the language of the Amasu 
a certain- girl was sealed to him as his future wife, and tl 
girl, who during his absence had been orphaned, he h. 
married recently with the approval of Owen, who at th 
time was preparing her for baptism. On the third momin 
after his marriage John appeared before his master in th 
last extremity of grief and terror. 

*' Help me, Messenger!" he cried, ** for my ancestra 
spirit has entered our hut and bitten my wife as she la; 

'* Are you mad? " asked Owen. *'What is an ancestn 
spirit, and how can it have bitten your wife ? " 

** A snake," gasped John, *'a green snake of the won 

Then Owen remembered the superstition, and snatchir 
blue-stone and spirits of wine from his medicine chest, \ 
rushed to John's hut. As it happened, he was fortunate 
in time with his remedies and succeeded in saving tl 
woman's life, whereby his reputation as a doctor and 
magician, already great, was considerably enhanced. 

'* Where is the snake ? " he asked when at length she wi 
out of danger. 

"Yonder, under the kaross," answered John, pointing: 
a skin rug which lay in the corner. 

•• Have you killed it? " 

•* No, Messenger, ' answered the man, ** I dare not. Alas 


THE NEW f#8f 


A^TflH, ^EVOT. . AND 

« i. 


we must live with the thing here in the hut till it chooses 
to go away." 

"Truly,*' said Owen, ** I am ashamed to think that you 
who are a Christian should still believe so horrible a super- 
stition. Does your faith teach you that the souls of men 
enter into snakes ? '' 

Now John hung his head ; then snatchin*( a kerry, he 
threw aside the kaross, revealing a great green serpent seven 
or eight feet long. With fury he fell upon the reptile, killed 
it by repeated blows, and hurled it into the courtyard outside 
the house. 

"Behold, father," he said, **and judge whether I am 
Btill superstitious." Then his countenance fell and he 
added: "Yet my life must pay for this deed, for it is an 
ancient law among us that to harm one of these snakes is 
death ". 

*• Have no fear,** said Owen, " a way will be found out of 
this trouble." 

That afternoon Owen heard a great hubbub outside his 
kraal, and going to see what was the matter, he found a 
party of the witch-doctors dragging John towards the place 
of judgment, which was by the king's house. Thither he 
followed to discover that the case was already in course of 
being opened before the king, his council, and a vast audience 
of the people. Hokosa was the accuser. In brief and 
pregnant sentences, producing the dead snake in proof of 
his argument, he pointed out the enormity of the olTence 
against the laws of the Amasuka wherewith the prisoner 
was charged, demanding that the man who had killed the 
house of his ancestral spirit should instantly be put to death. 

" What have you to say ? " asked the king of John. 

"This O, King," replied John, '* that I am a Christian, 
a.nd to me that snake is nothing but a noxious reptile. It 
bit my wife, and had it not been for the medicine of the 
Messenger, she would have perished of the poison. There- 
fore I killed it before it could harm others." 


'* It is a fair answer," said the king. '^ Hokosa, I think 
that this man should go free." 

" The king's will is the law," replied Hokosa bitterly ; 
** but if the law were the king's will, the decision would be 
otherwise. This man has slain, not a snake but that which 
held the spirit of an ancestor, and for the deed he deserves 
to die. Hearken, O King, for the business is larger than 
it seems. How are we to be governed henceforth ? Are 
we to follow our ancient rules and customs, or must we 
submit ourselves to a new rule and a new custom ? I tell 
you, O King, that the people murmur ; they are without 
light, they wander in the darkness, they cannot understand. 
Play with us no more, but let us hear the truth that we may 
judge of this matter." 

Umsuka looked at Owen, but made no reply. 

'* I will answer you, Hokosa," said Owen, '* for I am the 
spring of all this trouble, and at my command that man, 
my disciple, killed yonder snake. What is it ? It is nothing 
but a reptile ; no human spirit ever dwelt within it as you 
imagine in your superstition. You ask to hear the truth ; 
day by day I have preached it in your ears and you have not 
listened, though many among you have listened and under- 
stood. What is it that you seek ? " 

** We seek, Messenger, to be rid of you, your fantasies 
and your religion ; and we demand that our king should 
expel you and restore the ancient laws, or failing this, that 
you should prove your power openly before us all. Your 
word, O King!" 

Umsuka thought a while and answered : — 

" This is my word, Hokosa : I will not drive the Messenger 
from the land, for he is a good man ; he saved my life, and 
there is virtue in his teaching, towards which I myself 
incline. Yet it is just that he should be asked to prove his 
power, so that an end may be put to doubt and all of us may 
learn what god we are to worship." 

"How can I prove my power," asked Owen, *' further 


than I have proved it already ? Does Hokosa desire to set 
up his god against my God — the false against the true ? " 

*' I do," answered the wizard with passion, " and according 

to the issue let the judgment be. Let us halt no longer 

between two opinions, let us become wholly Christian or 

rest wholly heathen, for to be divided is to be destroyed. 

T^i^e magic of the Messenger is great; once and for all let 

"s learn if it is more than our magic. Let us put him and 

hi^ doctrines to the trial by fire." 

^^What is the trial by fire ? " asked Owen. 

^^You have seen something of it, White Man, but not 

"^ v:*ch. This is the trial by fire : to stand yonder before the 

*^^^« of the god of thunder when a great tempest rages — not 

*^-* ^^h a storm as you saw, but a storm that splits the heavens 

^-^nd to come thence unscathed. Listen : I who am a 

* *^^aven-herd,' I who know the signs of the weather, tell 

y'^^Va that within two days such a tempest as this will break 

"I^CDn us. Then White Man, I and my companions will be 

^^^^dy to meet you on the plain. Take the cross by which 

y^^Vj swear and set it up yonder and stand by it, and with 

y^^Vi your converts, Nodwengo the prince, and this man 

^^*>om you have named John, if they dare to go. Over 

^^"^inst you, around the symbol of the god by which we 

®^^^ear, will stand I and my company, and we will pray our 

^^^<i and you shall pray your God. Then the storm will 

^"^ak upon us, and when it is ended we shall learn which 

"US remain alive. If you and your cross are shattered, to 

^ will be the victory ; if we are laid low, take it for your 

^'^''n. Your judgment. King ! " 

^gain Umsuka thought and answered : — 

•* So be it. Messenger, hear me. There is no need for 

^"^^^ to accept this challenge ; but if you will not accept it, 

^=n go from my country in peace, taking with you those 

^^0 cleave to you. If on the other hand you do accept it, 

^^se shall be the stakes: that if you pass the trial unharmed, 

^^^<1 the fire-doctors are swept away, your creed shall be my 



creed and the creed of the land ; but if the fire-doctors prevail 
against you, then it shall be death or banishment to any 
who profess that creed. Now choose ! " 

" I have chosen," said Owen. ** I will meet Hokosa and 
his company on the Place of Fire whenever he may appoint, 
but for the others I cannot say." 

" We will come with you," said Nodwengo and John, with 
one voice; •* where you go, Messenger, we will surely 




\\^hp:n this momentous discussion was finished, as usual 
Owen preached before the king, expounding the Scriptures 
^nd taking for his subject the duty of faith. As he went 
back to his hut he saw that the snake which John had killed 
had been set upon a pole in that part of the Great Place 
'^^hich served as a market, and that hundreds of natives 
'^^ere gathered beneath it gesticulating and talking excitedly. 
'* See the work of Hokosa," he thought to himself. 
* • Moses set up a serpent to save the people ; yonder wizard 
^ets up one to destroy them." 

That evening Owen had no heart for his labours, for his 
*>iind was heavy at the prospect of the trial which lay before 
him. Not that he cared for his own life, for of this he 
Scarcely thought ; it was the prospects of his cause which 
troubled him. It seemed much to expect that Heaven again 
should throw over him the mantle of its especial protection, 
^nd yet if it did not do so there was an end of his mission 
^mong the People of F'ire. Well, he did not seek this trial 

— he would have avoided it if he could, but it had been 
"thrust upon him, and he was forced to choose between it 
^nd the abandonment of the work which he had undertaken 
'With such high hopes and pushed so far toward success. 

He did not choose the path, it had been pointed out to him 

tio walk upon ; and if it ended in a precipice, at least he 

A^ould have done his best. 

As he thought thus John entered the hut, panting. 
•* What is the matter ? " Owen asked. 


*' Father, the people saw and pursued me because of the 
death of that accursed snake. Had I not run fast and escaped 
them, I think they would have killed me." 

" At least you have escaped, John ; so be comforted and 
return thanks." 

** Father," said the man presently, ** I know that you are 
great, and can do many wonderful things, but have you in 
truth power over the lightning ? " 

** Why do you ask ? " 

** Because a great tempest is brewing, and if you have not 
we shall certainly be killed when we stand yonder on the 
Place of Fire." 

"John," he said, ** I cannot speak to the lightning in a 
voice which it can hear. I cannot say to it * go yonder,' or 
* come hither,' but He Who made it can do so. Why do you 
tempt me with your doubts ? Have I not told you the story 
of Elijah the prophet and the priests of Baal ? Did Elijah's 
Master forsake him, and shall He forsake us ? Also this is 
certain, that all the medicine of Hokosa and his wizards will 
not turn a lightning flash by the breadth of a single hair. 
God alone can turn it, and for the sake of His cause among 
these people I believe that He will do so." 

Thus Owen spoke on till, in reproving the weakness of 
another, he felt his own faith come back to him and, remem- 
bering the past and how he had been preserved in it, the 
doubt and trouble went out of his mind to return no more. 

The third day — the day of trial — came. For sixty hours 
or more the heat of the weather had been intense ; indeed, 
during all that time the thermometer in Owen's hut, not- 
withstanding the protection of a thick thatch, had shown 
the temperature to vary between a maximum of 113 and a 
minimum of loi degrees. Now, in the early morning, it 
stood at 108. 

** Will the storm break to-day ? " asked Owen of Nodwengo, 
who came to visit him. 

** They say so, Messenger, and I think it by the feel of the 


air. If so, it will be a very great storm, for the heaven is 
full of fire. Already Hokosa and the doctors are at their 
rites upon the plain yonder, but there will be no need to join 
them till two hours after midday." 
" Is the cross ready ? " asked Owen. 

** Yes, and set up. It is a heavy cross ; six men could 
scarcely carry it. Oh ! Messenger, I am not afraid — and yet, 
have you no medicine ? If not, I fear that the lightning 

will fall upon the cross as it fell upon the pole and then " 

** Listen, Nodwengo," said Owen, ** I know a medicine, 
but I will not use it. You see that waggon chain ? Were 
one end of it buried in the ground and the other with a spear 
blade made fast to it hung to the top of the cross, we could 
1 ive out the fiercest storm in safety. But I say that I will 
riot use it. Are we witch doctors that we should take refuge 
in tricks? No, let faith be our shield, and if it fail us, then 
let us die. Pray now with me that it may not fail us." 

It was afternoon. All round the Field of Fire were 

gathered thousands upon thousands of the people of the 

^masuka. The news of this duel between the God of the 

Xvhite man and their god had travelled far and wide, and 

^ven the very aged who could scarcely crawl and the little 

^3nes who must be carried were collected there to see the 

^ssue. Nor had they need to fear disappointment, for already 

the sky was half-hidden by dense thunder-clouds piled ridge 

on ridge, and the hush of the coming tempest lay upon the 

«arth. Round about the meteor stone which thev called a 

god, each of them stirring a little gourd of medicine that was 

placed upon the ground before him, but uttering no word, 

were gathered Hokosa and his followers to the number ot 

twenty. They were all of them arrayed in their snakeskin 

dresses and other wizard finery. Also each man held in his 

hand a wand fashioned from a human thigh-bone. In front 

of the stone burned a little fire, which now and again Hokosa 

fed with aromatic leaves, at the same time pouring medicine 


from his bowl upon the holy stone. Opposite the symbol 
of the god, but at a good distance from it, a great cross of 
white wood was set up in the rock by a spot which the 
witch-doctors themselves had chosen. Upon the banks of 
the stream, in the place apart, were the king, his councillors 
and the regiment on guard, and with them Owen, the Prince 
Nodwengo and John. 

** The storm will be fierce," said the king uneasily, glancing 
at the western sky, upon whose bosom the blue lightnings 
played with an incessant flicker. Then he bade those about 
him stand back, and calling Owen and the prince to him, 
said : ** Messenger, my son tells me that your wisdom knows 
a plan whereby you may be preserved safe from the fury of the 
tempest. Use it, I pray of you, Messenger, that your life may 
be saved, and with it the life of the only son who is left to me." 

*' I cannot," answered Owen, ** for thus by doubting Him 
I should tempt my Master. Still, it is not laid upon the 
prince to accompany me through this trial. Let him stay 
here, and I alone will stand beneath the cross." 

*' Stay, Nodwengo," implored the old man. 

** I did not think to live to hear my father bid me, one of 
the royal blood of the Amasuka, to desert my captain in the 
hour of battle and hide myself in the grass like a woman," 
answered the prince with a bitter smile. '* Nay, it may be 
that death awaits me yonder, but nothing except death shall 
keep me back from the venture." 

" It is well spoken," said the king ; '* be it as you will." 

Now the company of wizards, leaving their medicine-pots 
upon the ground, formed themselves in a treble line, and 
marching to where the king stood, they saluted him. Then 
they sang the praises of their god, and in a song that had 
been prepared, heaped insult upon the God of the white man 
and upon the messenger who preached Him. To all of this 
Owen listened in silence. 

** He is a coward ! " cried their spokesman ; ** he has not 
a word to say. He skulks there in his white robes behind 


the majesty of the king. Let him go forth and stand by his 
piece of wood. He dare not go ! He thinks the hillside 
safer. Come out, little White Man, and we will show you 
iiOAV we manage the lightnings. Ah ! they shall fly about 
yrou like spears in battle. You shall throw yourself upon 
tlie ground and shriek in terror, and then they will lick you 
Lip and you shall be no more, and there will be an end of 
^ou and of the symbol of your God." 

** Cease your boastings," said the king shortly, **and get 
^^ou back to your place, knowing that if it should chance that 
:lie white man conquers you will be called upon to answer 
Tor these words." 

** We shall be ready, O King," they cried ; and amidst the 
-heers of the vast audience they marched back to their station, 
^till singing the blasphemous mocking song. 

Now to the west all the heavens were black as night, 
ihough the eastern sky still showed blue and cloudless. 
Mature lay oppressed with silence — silence intense and 
innatural ; and so great was the heat that the air danced 
risib\y above the ironstone as it dances about a glowing 
Move. Suddenly the quietude was broken by a moaning 
iound of wind ; the grass stirred, the leaves of the trees 
:>egan to shiver, and an icy breath beat upon Owen's brow. 

•* Let us be going," he said, and lifting the ivory crucifix 
i.bove his head, he passed the stream and walked towards 
the wooden cross. After him came the Prince Nodwengo, 
ivearing his royal dress of leopard skin, and after him, John, 
Eirrayed in a linen robe. 

As the little procession appeared to their view some of the 
soldiers began to mock, but almost instantly the laughter 
died away. Rude as they were, these savages understood 
that here was no occasion for their mirth, that the three 
men indeed seemed clothed with a curious dignity. Perhaps 
it was their slow and quiet gait, perhaps a sense of the errand 
upon which they were bound ; or it may have been the strange 
unearthly light that fell upon them frpm over the Qdge of thft. 


storm cloud ; at the least, as the multitude becanr 
their appearance was impressive. They reached ' 
and took up their stations there^ Owen in fro 
Nod wen go to the right, and John to the left. 

Now a sharp squall of strong wind swept across t 
and with it came a flaw of rain. It passed by, and t 
that had been muttering and growling in the distftn 
to burst. The great clouds seemed to grow and v 
from the breast of them swift lightnings leapt, to b 
other lightnings rushing upwards from the earth. 
was filled with a tumult of uncertain wind and a fa 
distant rain. Then the batteries of thunder were 
and the world shook with their volume. Dowa 
high the flashes fell blinding and incessant, and faj 
of them the fire-doctors could be seen running to 
pointing now here and now there with their wands < 
bones, and pouring the medicines from their gourds 
ground and upon each other. Owen and his two con 
could be seen also, standing quietly with claspe 
while above them towered the tall white cross. 

At length the storm was straight over head. * ^ 
advanced in its awe-inspiring might as flash after fli 
more fantastic and horrible than the last, smote i 
floor of ironstone. It played about the shapes of the 
who in the midst of it looked like devils in an infi 
crept onwards towards the station of the cross, but- 
rcached the cross. 

One flash struck indeed within fifty paces of whc 
stood. Then of a sudden a marvel happened, or sc 
which to this day the People of Fire talk of as a m 
in an instant the rain began to pour like a wall 
stretching from earth to heaven, and the wind char 
had been blowing from the west, now it blew from 
with the force of a gale. 

It blew and rolled the tempest back upon itself, c 
to return to the regions whence it had gathered. 

thf: ntv; yop.k 



K L 


irery foot of the cross its march was stayed ; there was the 
water-line, as straight as if it had been drawn with a rule. 
The thunder-clouds that were pressed forward met the clouds 
that were pressed back, and together they seemed to come 
to earth, filling the air with a gloom so dense that the eye 
^ould not pierce it. To the west was a wall of blackness 
ro^^ering to the heavens ; to the east, light, blue and unholy, 
gleamed upon the white cross and the figures of its watchers. 
For some seconds — twenty or more — there was a lull, and 
:hen it seemed as though all hell had broken loose upon the 
vorld. The wall of blackness became a wall of flame, in 
^hich strange and ardent shapes appeared ascending and 
lescending; the thunder bellowed till the mountains rocked, 
(.nd in one last blaze, awful and indescribable, the skies melted 
nto a deluge of fire. In the flare of it Owen thought that 
le saw the figures of men falling this way and that, then he 
staggered against the cross for support and his senses failed 

When they returned again, he perceived the storm being 
Irawn back from the face of the pale earth like a pall from 
:lie face of the dead, and he heard a murmur of fear and 
wonder rising from ten thousand throats. 

Well might they fear and wonder, for of the twenty and 
ine wizards eleven were dead, four were paralysed by shock, 
^ve were flying in their terror, and one, Hokosa himself, 
fttood staring at the fallen, a very picture of despair. Nor 
Lvas this all, for the meteor stone with a human shape which 
Ror generations the People of Fire had worshipped as a god, 
lay upon the plain in fused and shattered fragments. 

The people saw, and a sound as of a hollow groan of 
terror went up from them. Then they were silent. For a 
while Owen and his companions were silent also, since their 
hearts were too full for speech. Then he said : — 

'* As the snake fell harmless from the hand of Paul, so 
has the lightning turned back from me, who strive to follow 


in his footsteps, working death and dismay among those 
who would have harmed us. May forgiveness be theirs who 
were without understanding. Brethren, let us return and 
make report to the king." 

Now, as they had come, so they went back : first Owen 
with the crucifix, next to him Nodwengo, and last of the 
three John. They drew near to the king, when suddenly, 
moved by a common impulse, the thousands of the people 
upon the banks of the stream with one accord threw them- 
selves upon their knees before Owen, calling him God and 
offering him worship. Infected by the contagion, Umsuka, 
his guard and his councillors followed their example, so that 
of all the multitude Hokosa alone remained upon his feet, 
standing by his dishonoured and riven deity. 

** Rise ! " cried Owen aghast. ** Would you do sacrilege, 
and offer worship to a man ? Rise, I command you ! " 

Then the king rose, saying : — 

" You are no man, Messenger, you are a spirit." 

** He is a spirit," repeated the multitude after him. 

** I am not a spirit, I am yet a man," cried Owen again, 
** but the Spirit Whom I serve has made His power manifest 
in me His servant, and your idols are smitten with the sword 
of His power, O ye Sons of Fire ! Hokosa still lives, let 
him be brought hither." 

They fetched Hokosa, and he stood before them. 

** You have seen. Wizard," said the king. •* What have 
you to say ? " 

** Nothing," answered Hokosa, " save that victory is to 
the Cross, and to the white man who preaches it, for his 
magic is greater than our magic. By his command the 
tempest was stayed, and the boasts we hurled fell back upon 
our heads and the head of our god to destroy us." 

** Yes," said the king, " victory is to the Cross, and hence- 
forth the Cross shall be worshipped in this land, or at least 
no other god shall be worshipped. Let us be going. Come 
with me, Messenger, Lord of the Lightning." . 




On the morrow Owen baptised the king, many of his 
councillors, and some twenty others whom he considered fit 
to receive the rite. Also he despatched his first convert 
John, with other messengers, on a three months' journey to 
the coast, giving them letters acquainting the bishop and 
others with his marvellous success, and praying that mission- 
a.ries might be sent to assist him in his labours. 

Now day by day the Church grew till it numbered hundreds 
of souls, and thousands more hovered on its threshold. 
I^rom dawn to dark Owen toiled, preaching, exhorting, con- 
fessing, gathering in his harvest ; and firom dark to midnight 
he pored over his translation of the Scriptures, teaching 
r>Iodwengo and a few others how to read and write them. 
6ut although his efforts were crowned with so signal and 
Extraordinary a triumph, he was well aware of the dangers 
that threatened the life of the infant Church. Many accepted 
it indeed, and still more tolerated it ; but there remained 
rnultitudes who regarded the new religion with suspicion 
^nd veiled hatred. Nor was this strange, seeing that the 
hearts of men are not changed in an hour or their ancient 
Customs easily overset. 

On one point, indeed, Owen had to give way. The 

Amasuka were a polygamous people ; all their law and 

traditions were interwoven with polygamy, and to abolish 

that institution suddenly and with violence would have 

brought their social fabric to the ground. Now, as he knew 

well, the missionary Church declares in effect that no man 



can be both a Christian and a polygamist ; therefore among 
the followers of that custom the missionary Church makes 
but little progress. Not without many qualms and hesita- 
tions, Owen, having only the Scriptures to consult, came to 
a compromise with his converts. If a man already married 
to more than one wife wished to become a Christian, he 
permitted him to do so upon the condition that he took no 
more wives ; while a man unmarried at the time of his 
conversion might take one wife only. This decree, liberal 
as it was, caused great dissatisfaction among both men and 
women. But it was as nothing compared to the feeling 
that was evoked by Owen's preaching against all war not 
undertaken in self-defence, and against the strict laws which 
he prevailed upon the king to pass, suppressing the practice 
of wizardry, and declaring the chief or doctor who caused a 
man to be ** smelt out " and killed upon charges of witchcraft 
to be guilty of murder. 

At first whenever Owen went abroad he was surrounded 
by thousands of people who followed him in the expectation 
that he would work miracles, which, after his exploits with 
the lightning, they were well persuaded that he could do 
if he chose. But he worked no more miracles; he only 
preached to them a doctrine adverse to their customs and 
foreign to their thoughts. 

So it came about that in time, when the novelty was gone 
off and the story of his victory over the Fire-god had grown 
stale, although the work of conversion went on steadily, 
many of the people grew weary of the white man and his 
doctrines. Soon this weariness found expression in various 
ways, and in none more markedly than by the constant 
desertions from the ranks of the king's regiments. At first, 
by Owen's advice, the king tolerated these desertions ; but 
at length, having obtained information that an entire 
regiment purposed absconding at dawn, he caused it to be 
surrounded and seized by night. Next morning he addressed 
that regiment, saying : — 


'^ Soldiers, you think that because I have become a 
Christian and will not permit unnecessary bloodshed, I am 
also become a fool. I will teach you otherwise. One man 
in every twenty of you shall be killed, and henceforth any 
soldier who attempts to desert will be killed also ! " 

The order was carried out, for Owen could not find a word 
to say against it, with the result that desertions almost 
ceased, though not before the king had lost some eight or 
nine thousand of his best soldiers. Worst of all, these 
soldiers had gone to join Hafela in his mountain fastnesses ; 
and the rumour grew that ere long they would appear again, 
to claim the crown for him or to take it by force of arms. 

Now too a fresh complication arose. The old king 
sickened of his last illness, and soon it became known that 
he must die. A month later die he did, passing away 
peacefully in Owen's arms, and with his last breath exhort- 
ing his people to cling to the Christian religion ; to take 
Nodwengo for their king and to be faithful to him. 

The king died, and that same day was buried by Owen in 
the gloomy resting-place of the blood-royal of the People of 
Fire, where a Christian priest now set foot for the first time. 
On the morrow Nodwengo was proclaimed king with 
much ceremony in face of the people and of all the army 
that remained to him. One captain raised a cry for Hafela 
his brother. Nodwengo caused him to be seized and brought 
before him. 

"Man," he said, "on this my coronation day I will not 
stain my hand with blood. Listen. You cry upon Hafela, 
and to Hafela you shall go, taking him this message. Tell 
him that I, Nodwengo, have succeeded to the crown of 
Umsuka, my father, by his will and the will of the people. 
Tell him it is true that I have become a Christian, and that 
Christians follow not after war but peace. Tell him, how- 
ever, that though I am a Christian I have not forgotten how 
to fight or how to rule. It has reached my ears that it is 
his purpose to attack me with the great force which he is 


gathering, and to possess himself of my throne. If he 
should choose to come, I shall be ready to meet him ; but 
I counsel him against coming, for it will be to find his death. 
Let him stay where he is in peace, and be my subject ; or 
let him go afar with those that cleave to him, and set up a 
kingdom of his own, for then I shall not follow him ; but 
let him not dare to lift a spear against me, his sovereign, 
since if he does so he shall be treated as a rebel and find 
the doom of a rebel. Begone, and show your face here no 
more ! " 

The man crept away crestfallen ; but all who heard that 
speech broke into cheering, which, as its purport was 
repeated from rank to rank, spread far and wide ; for now 
the army learned that in becoming a Christian, Nodwengo 
had not become a woman. Of this indeed he soon gave 
them ample proof. The old king's grip upon things had 
been lax, that of Nodwengo was like iron. He practised no 
cruelties, and did injustice to none ; but his discipline was 
severe, and soon the regiments were brought to a greater 
pitch of proficiency than they had ever reached before, 
although they were now allowed to marry when they 
pleased, a boon that hitherto had been denied to them. 
Moreover, by Owen's help, he designed an entirely new 
system of fortification of the kraal and surrounding hills, 
which would, it was thought, make the place impregnable. 
These and many other acts, equally vigorous and far-seeing, 
put new heart into the nation. Also the report of them put 
fear into Hafela, who, it was rumoured, now had given up 
all idea of attack. 

Some there were, however, who looked upon these changes 
with little love, and Hokosa was the chief of them. After 
his defeat in the duel by fire, for a while his spirit was 
crushed. Hitherto he had more or less been a believer in 
the protecting influence of his own god or fetish, who would, 
as he thought, hold his priests scatheless from the lightning. 
Often and often had he stood in past days upon that plain 


while the great tempests broke around his head, and 
returned thence unharmed, attributing to sorcery a safety 
that was really due to chance. From time to time indeed a 
priest was killed ; but, so his companions held, the misfortune 
resulted invariably from the man's neglect of some rite, or 
was a mark of the anger of the heavens. 

Now Hokosa had lived to see all these convictions 

shattered : he had seen the lightning, which he pretended to 

be able to control, roll back upon him from the foot of the 

Christian cross, reducing his god to nothingness and his 

companions to corpses. 

At first Hokosa was dismayed, but as time went on hope 

came back to him. Stripped of his offices and power, and 

from the greatest in the nation, after the king, become one 

of small account, still no harm or violence was attempted 

tc>wards him. He was left wealthy and in peace, and living 

^H.U8 he watched and listened with open eyes and ears, 

^^^ting till the tide should turn. It seemed that he would 

'^c>t have long to wait, for reasons that have been told. 

**Why do you sit here like a vulture on a rock," asked 
*0^ girl Noma, whom he had taken to wife, "when you 
'^ight be yonder with Hafela, preparing him by your wisdom 
^^X" the coming war ? " 

** Because I am a king-vulture, and I wait for the sick 
^^11 to die," he answered, pointing to the Great Place 
^^neath him. " Say, why should I bring Hafela to prey 
^I>on a carcase I have marked down for my own?" 

**Now you speak well," said Noma; "the bull suffers 
^Om a strange disease, and when he is dead another must 
^^^-^ the herd." 

•'That is so," answered her husband, "and, therefore, 
*^ am patient." 

It was shortly after this conversation that the old king 

^*^d, with results very different from those which Hokosa 

*^^d anticipated. Although he was a Christian, to his 

Surprise Nodwengo showed that he was also a strong ruler, 


and that there was little chance of the sceptre slipping from 
his hand — none indeed while the white teacher was there 
to guide him. 

" What will you do now, Hokosa ? " asked Noma his 
wife upon a certain day. '* Will you turn you to Hafela 
after all ? " 

" No," answered Hokosa ; " I will consult my ancient 
lore. Listen. Whatever else is false, this is true: that 
magic exists, and I am its master. For a while it seemed 
to me that the white man was greater at the art than I am ; 
but of late I have watched him and listened to his doctrines, 
and I believe that this is not so. It is true that in the 
beginning he read my plans in a dream, or otherwise ; it is 
true that he hurled the lightning back upon my head ; bu 
I hold that these things were accidents. Again and again h 
has told us that he is not a wizard ; and if this be so, h 
can be overcome." 

" How, husband ? " 

" How ? By wizardry. This very night, Noma, wi 
your help I will consult the dead, as I have done in bygon^^ -*c 
time, and learn the future from their lips which cannot lie.' "^ - 

" So be it ; though the task is hateful to me, and I hat^^ ^^ 
you who force me to it." 

Noma answered thus with passion, but her eyes shon^ -^^ 
as she spoke : for those who have once tasted the cup (>^^:^^ 
magic are ever drawn to drink of it again, even when the^ 
fear the draught. 

It was midnight, and Hokosa with his wife stood in th^ 
burying-ground of the kings of the Amasuka. Before Owe 
came upon his mission it was death to visit this spot excep 
upon the occasion of the laying to rest of one of the roy 
blood, or to offer the annual sacrifice to the spirits of thi 
dead. Even beneath the bright moon that shone upon i 
the place seemed terrible. Here in the bosom of the hill 
was an amphitheatre, surrounded by walls of rock varyin 



from five hundred to a thousand feet in height. In this 
amphitheatre grew great mimosa thorns, and above them 
towered pillars of granite, set there not by the hand of man 
but of nature. It would seem that the Amasuka, led by 
some fine instinct, had chosen these columns as fitting 
memorials of their kings, at the least a departed monarch 
lay at the foot of each of them. 

The smallest of those unhewn obelisks — it was about fifty 
feet high — marked the resting-place of Umsuka ; and deep 
into its granite Owen with his own hand had cut the 
dead king's name and date of death, surmounting his 
inscription with the symbol of the cross. 

Towards this pillar Hokosa made his way through the 
Wet grass, followed by Noma his wife. Presently they were 
there, standing one upon each side of a little mound of earth 
^ore like an ant-heap than a grave ; for, after the custom of 
iis people, Umsuka had been buried sitting. At the foot of 
^ach of the other pillars rose a heap of similar shape, but 
liany times as large. The kings who slept there were 
tccompanied to their resting-places by numbers of their 
^ves and servants, who had been slain in solemn sacrifice 
iliat they might attend their Lord whithersoever he should 

** What is that you desire and would do ? " asked Noma, 
Ln a hushed voice. Bold as she was, the place and the 
occasion awed her. 

•* I desire wisdom from the dead ! " he answered. ** Have 
I not already told you, and can I not win it with your 
lielp ? " 

" What dead, husband ? " 

** Umsuka the king. Ah ! I served him living, and at the 

last he drove me away from his side. Now he shall serve 

me, and out of the nowhere I will call him back to mine." 

"Will not this s^'mbol defeat you?" and Noma pointed 

to the cross hewn in the granite. 

At her words a sudden gust of rage seemed to shake the 


wizard. His still eyes flashed, his lips turned livid, and 
with them he spat upon the cross. 

" It has no power," he said. " May it be accursed, and may 
he who believes therein hang thereon ! It has no power ; but 
even if it had, according to the tale of that white liar, such 
things as I would do have been done beneath its shadow. 
By it the dead have been raised — ay ! dead kings have been 
dragged from death and forced to tell the secrets of the 
grave. Come, come, let us to the work." 

*'What must I do, husband?" 

" You shall sit you there, even as a corpse sits, and there 
for a little while you shall die — yes, your spirit shall leave 
you — and I will |fill your body with the soul of him who 
sleeps beneath ; and through your lips I will learn his wis- 
dom, to whom all things are known.*' 

" It is terrible ! I am afraid ! " she said. " Cannot this 
be done otherwise ? " 

" It cannot," he answered. " The spirits of the dead have 
no shape or form ; they are invisible, and can speak only in 
dreams or through the lips of one in whose pulses life still 
lingers, though soul and body be already parted. Have no 
fear. Ere his ghost leaves you it shall recall your own^ 
which till the corpse is cold stays ever close at hand.. 
I did not think to find a coward in you, Noma." 

" I am not a coward, as you know well," she answered 
passionately, '*for many a deed of magic have we dared 
together in past days. But this is fearsome, to die that my 
body may become the home of the ghost of a dead man, 
who perchance, having entered it, will abide there, leaving" 
my spirit houseless, or perchance will shut up the doors oF 
my heart in such fashion that they never can be opened. 
Can it not be done by trance as aforetime ? Tell me, 
Hokosa, how often have you thus talked with the dead ? " 

*' Thrice, Noma." 

" And what chanced to them through whom you talked ? " 

"Two lived and took no harm; the third died, because the 


awakening medicine lacked power. Yet fear nothing ; that 
which I have with me is of the best. Noma, you know my 
plight : I must win wisdom or fall for ever, and you alone 
can help me ; for under this new rule, I can no longer buy 
a youth or maid for purposes of witchcraft, even if one could 
be found fitted to the work. Choose then : shall we go back 
or forward ? Here trance will not help us ; for those en- 
tranced cannot read the future, nor can they hold communion 
with the dead, being but asleep. Choose, Noma." 

" I have chosen," she answered. " Never yet have I 

turned my back upon a venture, nor will I do so now. Come 

life, come death, I will submit me to your wish, though 

there are few women who would dare as much for any man. 

Nor in truth do I this for you, Hokosa ; I do it because 

^ seek power, and thus only can we win it who are fallen. 

-^^Iso I love all things strange, and desire to commune with 

^^e dead and to know that, if for some few minutes only, at 

*^ast my woman's breast has held the spirit of a king. Yet, 

■*^ warn you, make no fault in your magic ; for should I die 

■^^neath it, then I, who desire to live on and to be great, 

ill haunt you and be avenged upon you I " 

"Oh! Noma," he said, " if I believed that there was any 

snger for you, should I ask you to suffer this thing ? — 

"^ » who love you more even than you love power, more 

^Vian my life, more than anything that is or ever can be." 

" I know it, and it is to that I trust," the woman answered. 

** Now begin, before my courage leaves me." 

" Good/* he said. ** Seat yourself there upon the mound, 
testing your head against the stone." 

She obeyed ; and taking thongs of hide which he had made 
ready, Hokosa bound her wrists and ankles, as these people 
bind the wrists and ankles of a corpse. Then he knelt 
before her, staring into her face with his solemn eyes and 
muttering: '*Obey and sleep". 

Presently her limbs relaxed, and her head fell forward. 
" Do you sleep? " he asked. 


" I sleep. Whither shall I go ? It is the true sleep — test 

** Pass to the house of the white man, my rival. Are you 
with him ? " 

" I am with him." 

" What does he ? " 

** He lies in slumber on his bed, and in his slumber he 
mutters the name of a woman, and tells her that he loves 
her, but that duty is more than love. Oh ! call me back I 
cannot stay ; a Presence guards him, and thrusts me thence." 

" Return," said Hokosa starting. ** Pass through the 
earth beneath you and tell me what you see." 

** I see the body of the king ; but were it not for his royal 
ornaments none would know him now. 

" Return," said Hokosa, ** and let the eyes of your spiri 
be open. Look around you and tell me what you see." 

** I see the shadows of the dead," she answered; "the}--^ 
stand about you, gazing at you with angry eyes ; but whe 
they come near you, something drives them back, and 
cannot understand what it is they say." 

** Is the ghost of Umsuka among them ? " 

** It is among them." 

" Bid him prophesy the future to me." 

" I have bidden him, but he does not answer. If yo 
would hear him speak, it must be through the lips of m 
body ; and first my body must be emptied of my ghost, thai^^^ 
his may find a place therein." 

** Say, can his spirit be compelled ? " 

** It can be compelled, or that part of it which still hover^^ 
near this spot, if you dare to speak the words you know. Bu 
first its house must be made ready. Then the words mu 
be spoken, and all must be done before a man can counC: 
three hundred ; for should the blood begin to clot about my^ 
heart, it will be still for ever." 

" Hearken," said Hokosa. ** When the medicine that t 
shall give does its work, and the spirit is loosened from your 


body, let it not go afar, no, whatever tempts or threatens it, 
and suffer not that the death -cord be severed, lest flesh and 
ghost be parted for ever." 

" I hear, and I obey. Be swift, for I grow weary.'* 

Then Hokosa took from his pouch two medicines : one a 
paste in a box, the other a fluid in a gourd. Taking of the 
paste he knelt upon the grave before the entranced woman 
and swiftly smeared it upon the mucous membrane of the 
mouth and throat. Also he thrust pellets of it into the ears, 
the nostrils, and the corners of the eyes. 

The effect was almost instantaneous. A change came 
over the girl's lovely face, the last awful change of death. 
Her cheeks fell in, her chin dropped, her eyes opened, and 
her flesh quivered convulsively. The wizard saw it all by 
the bright moonlight. Then he took up his part in this 
Unholy drama. 

All that he did cannot be described, because it is inde- 
Jcribable. The Witch of Endor repeated no formula, but 
he raised the dead ; and so did Hokosa the wizard. But 
le buried his face in the grey dust of the grave, he blew 
\nth his lips into the dust, he clutched at the dust with his 
lands, and when he raised his face again, lo ! it was grey 
ike the dust. Now began the marvel ; for, though the 
iroman before him remained a corpse, from the lips of that 
orpse a voice issued, and its sound was horrible, for the 
.ccent and tone of it were masculine, and the instrument 
hrough which it spoke — Noma's throat — was feminine. 
fet it could be recognised as the voice of Umsuka the dead 

'* Why have you summoned me from my rest, Hokosa ? " 
muttered the voice from the lips of the huddled corpse. 

•* Because I would learn the future, Spirit of the king," 
answered the wizard boldly, but saluting as he spoke. '^ You 
are dead^ and to your sight all the Gates are opened. By 
die power that I have, I command you to show . me what 
you see therein concerning myself, and to point out to me 


:;j^ Tin- WI/ARP. 

the path that I should follow to attain my ends and the 
ends of her in whose breast you dwell." 

At once the answer came, always in the same horrible 
voice : — 

*' Hearken to vour fate for this world, Hokosa the wizard. 
You shall triumph over your rival, the white man, the 
messenger; and by your hand he shall perish, passing to 
his appointed place where you must meet again. By that 
to which you cling you shall be betrayed, ay ! you shall lose \ 
that which you love and follow after that which you do not 
desire. In the grave of error you shall find truth, from the 
deeps of sin you shall pluck righteousness. " When these 
words fall upon your ears again, then, Wizard, take them for 
a sign and let your heart be turned. That which you deen^ 
accursed shall lift you up on high. High shall you be set. 
above the nation and its king, and from age to age the voic^ 
of the people shall praise you. Yet in the end cornea judg — 
ment ; and there shall the sin and the atonement strives 

together, and in that hour, Wi;!ard, you shall " 

. Thus the voice spoke, strongly at first, but growing eve ' 
more feeble as the sparks of life departed from the body 
the woman, till at length it ceased altogether. 

*• What shall chance to me in that hour?" Hokosa aske 
eagerly, placing his ears against Noma's lips. 

No answer came : and the wizard knew that if he wouk_ ^ 
drag his wife back from the door of death he must delay 
longer. Dashing the sweat from his eyes with one han^ 
with the other he seized the gourd of fluid that he had plac< 
ready, and thrusting back her head, he poured of its conten 
down her throat and waited a while. She did not mov 
In an extremity of terror he snatched a knife, and with 
single cut severed a vein in her arm, then taking some 
the fluid that remained in the gourd in his hand, he rubb^^ 
it roughly upon her brow and throat and heart. Now Noma '^ 
fingers stirred, and now, with horrible contortions and cvc^' 
symptom of agony, life returned to her. The blood flowed 



AS" OR. i!:::()\. and 
tilij::x lO.Xj/noNs 

K L 


irom her wounded arm, slowly at first, then more fast, and 
lifting her head she spoke. 

** Take me hence,'* she cried, " or I shall go mad ; for 
I have seen and heard things too terrible to be spoken ! " 

"What have you seen and heard?" he asked, while he 
cut the thongs which bound her wrists and feet. 

** I do not know," Noma answered weeping ; ** the vision 
of them passes from me ; but all the distances of death were 
open to my sight ; yes, I travelled through the distances of 
death. In them I met him who was the king, and he lay 
cold within me, speaking to my heart; and as he passed 
fi"om me he looked upon the child which I shall bear and 
cursed it, and surely accursed it shall be. Take me hence, 

you most evil man, for of your magic I have had enough, 
^nd from this day forth I am haunted ! '' 

•* Have no fear," answered Hokosa ; ** you have made the 
journey whence but few return ; and yet, as I promised you, 
you have returned to wear the greatness you desire and that 

1 sent you forth to win ; for henceforth we shall be great. 
Ivook, the dawn is breaking — the dawn of life and the dawn 
of power — and the mists of death and of disgrace roll back 
before us. Now the path is clear, the dead have shown it 
to me, and of wizardry 1 shall need no more." 

" Ay ! " answered Noma, ** but night follows dawn as the 
dawn follows night ; and through the darkness and the day- 
light, I tell you. Wizard, henceforth I am haunted! Also, 
be not so sure, for though I know not what the dead have 
spoken to you, yet it lingers on my mind that their words 
bear many meanings. Nay, speak to me no more, but let 
us fly from this dread home of ghosts, this habitation of the 
spirit-folk which we have violated." 

So the wizard and his wife crept from that solemn place, 
and as they went they saw the dawn-beams lighting upon 
the white cross that was reared in the Plain of Fire. 




The weeks passed by, and Hokosa sat in his kraal weaving 
a great plot. None suspected him any more, for though he 
did not belong to it, he was heard to speak well of the new 
faith, and to acknowledge that the god of fire which he had 
worshipped was a false god. He was humble also towards 
the king, but he craved to withdraw himself from all matters 
of the State, saying that now he had but one desire — to tend 
his herds and garden, and to grow old in peace with the new 
wife whom he had chosen and whom he loved. Owen, too, 
he greeted courteously when he met him, sending him gifts 
of corn and cattle for the service of his church. Moreover, 
when a messenger came from Hafela, making proposals to 
him, he drove him away and laid the matter before the 
council of the king. Vet that messenger, who was hunted 
from the kraal, took back a secret word for Hafela's ear. 

** It is not always winter," was the word, ** and it may 
chance that in the springtime you shall hear from me.'* 
And again, ** Say to the Prince Hafela, that though my face 
towards him is like a storm, yet behind the clouds the sun 
shines ever." . 

At length there came a day when Noma, his wife, was 
brought to bed. Hokosa, her husband, tended her alone, 
and when the child was born he groaned aloud and would not 
suffer her to look upon its face. Yet, lifting herself, ^he saw. 

'* Did I not tell you it was accursed ? ** she wailed. " Take 
it away ! " and she sank back in a swoon. So he took the 
child, and buried it deep in the cattle-yard by night. 


After this it came about that Noma, who, though her 
mind owned the sway of his, had never loved him over much, 
hated her husband Hokosa. Yet he had this power over 
her that she could not leave him. But he loved her more 
and more, and she had this power over him that she could 
always draw him to her. Great as her beauty had ever been, 
after the birth of the child it grew greater day by day, but it 
was an evil beauty, the beauty of a witch ; and this fate fell 
upon her, that she feared the dark and would never be alone 
after the sun had set. 

When she was recovered from her illness. Noma sat one 
night in her hut, and Hokosa sat there also watching her. 
The evening was warm, but a bright fire burned in the hut, 
and she crouched upon a stool by the fire, glancing continu- 
ally over her shoulder. 

N^Why do you bide by the fire, seeing that it is so hot, 
Noma ? " he asked. 

** Because I fear to be away from the light," she answered ; 
adding, ** Oh, accursed man ! for your own ends you have 
caused me to be bewitched, ay ! and that which was born 
of me also, and bewitched I am by those shadows that you 
bade me seek, which now will never leave me. Nor, is this 
all. You swore to me that if I would do your will I should 
become great, ay ! and you took me from one who would 
have made me great and whom I should have pushed on to 
victory. But now it seems that for nothing I made that 
awful voyage into the deeps of death ; and for nothing, yet 
living, am I become the sport of those that dwell there. 
How am I greater than I was — I who am but the second 
wife of a fallen witch-doctor, who sits in the sun, day by 
day, while age gathers on his head like frost upon a bush ? 
Where are all your high schemes now ? Where is the fruit 
of wisdom that I gathered for you ? Answer, Wizard, whom 
I have learned to hate, but from whom I cannot escape ! " 

" Truly," said Hokosa in a bitter voice, '* for all my 
sins against them the heavens have laid a heavy fate upon 


my head, that thus with flesh and spirit I should worship 
a woman who loathes me. One comfort only is left to me, 
that you dare not take my life lest another should be added 
to those shadows who companion you, and what I bid you, 
that you must still do. Ay. you fear the dark, Noma ; yet 
did I command you to rise and go stand alone through the 
long night yonder in the burying-place of kings, why, you 
must obey. Come, I command you — go ! *' 

•* Nay, nay ! " she wailed in an extremity of terror. Yet 
she rose and went towards the door sideways, for her hands 
were outstretched in supplication to him. 

••Come back,'' he said, '•and listen: If a hunter has 
nurtured up a fierce dog, wherewith alone he can gain his 
livelihood, he tries to tame that dog by love, does he not? 
And if it will not become gentle, then, the brute being 
necessary to him, he tames it by fear. I am the hunter 
and, Noma, you are the hound ; and since this curse is on 
me that I cannot live without you, why I must master you 
as best I may. Vet, believe me, I would not cause you 
fear or pain, and it saddens me that you should be haunted 
by these sick fancies, for they are nothing more. I have 
seen such cases before to-day, and I have noted that they 
can be cured by mixing with fresh faces and travelling in 
new countries. Noma, I think it would be well that, after 
your late sickness, according to the custom of the women of 
our people, you should part from me a while, and go upon 
a journey of purification." 

•• Whither shall I go and who will go with me ? " she 
asked sullenly. 

" I will find yr?u companions, women discreet and skilled. 
And as to where you shall go, I will tell you. You shall 
go upon an embassy to the Prince Hafela." 

'• Are you not afraid that I should stop there ? " she asked 
again, with a fiash of her eyes. •* It is true that I never 
learned all the story, yet I thought that the prince was not 
so glad to hand me back to you as you would have had mc 

TJI'- KH'.V VOrvK 

Art)-. i'.."0-- •'•^" 


to believe. The price you paid for me must have been good, 
Hokosa. and mayhap it had to do with the death of a king." 

" I am not afraid," he answered, setting his teeth, ** because 
I know that whatever your heart may desire, my will follows 
you, and while I live that is a cord you cannot break unless 
I choose to loose it, Noma. I command you to be faithful 
to me and to return to me, and these commands you must 
obey. Hearken : you taunted me just now, saying that I 
sat like a dotard in the sun and advanced you nothing. 
Well, I will advance you, for both our sakes, but mostly for 
your own, since you desire it, and it must be done through 
the Prince Hafela. I cannot leave this kraal, for day and 
night I rm watched, and before I had gone an hour's journey 
I should be seized ; also here I have work to do. But the 
Place of Purification is secret, and when you reach it you 
need not bide there, you can travel on into the mountains 
till you come to the town of the Prince Hafela. He will 
receive you gladly, and you shall whisper this message in 
his ear : — 

** * These are the words of Hokosa, my husband, which 
he has set in my mouth to deliver to you, O Prince. Be 
guided by them and grow great ; reject them and die a 
wanderer, a little man of no account. But first, this is the 
price that you shall swear by the sacred oath to pay to 
Hokosa, if his wisdom finds favour in your sight and through 
it you come to victory : That after you, the king, he, 
Hokosa, shall be the first man in our land, the general of 
the armies, the captain of the council, the head of the doctors, 
and that to him shall be given half of the cattle of Nodwengo, 
who now is king. Also to him shall be given power to stamp 
out the new faith which overruns the land like a foreign 
weed, and to deal as he thinks fit with those who cling 

** Now, Noma, when he has sworn this oath in your ear, 
calling down ruin upon his own head, should he break one 
word of it, and not before, you shall continue the message 


thus : * These are the other words that Hokosa set in my 
mouth : '* Know, O Prince, that the king, your brother, grows 
very strong, for he is a great soldier, who learned his art in 
bygone wars ; also the white man that is named Messenger 
has taught him many things as to the building of forts and 
walls and the drilling and discipline of men. So strong is 
he that you can scarcely hope to conquer him in open war — 
yet snakes may crawl where men cannot walk. Therefore, 
Prince, let your part be that of a snake. Do you send an 
embassy to the king, your brother, and say to him : — 

** * My brother, you have been preferred before me and set 
up to be king in my place, and because of this my heart is 
bitter, so bitter that I have gathered my strength to make 
war upon you. Yef, at the last, I have taken another 
council, bethinking me that, if we fight, in the end it may 
chance that neither of us will be left alive to rule, and that 
the people also will be brought to nothing. To the north 
there lies a good country and a wide, where but few men 
live, and thither I would go, setting the mountains and the 
river between us ; for there, far beyond your borders, I also 
can be a king. Now, to reach this country, I must travel 
by the pass that is not far from your Great Place, and I pray 
you that you will not attack my impis or the women and 
children that I shall send, and a guard before them, to await 
me in the plain beyond the mountains, seeing that these can 
only journey slowly. Let us pass by in peace, my brother, 
for so shall our quarrel be ended; but if you do so much as 
lift a single spear against me, then I will give you battle, 
setting my fortune against your fortune and my god against 
your God I " ' 

** Such are the words that the embassy shall deliver into 
the ears of the king, Nodwengo, and it shall come about 
that when he hears them, Nodwengo, whose heart is gentle 
and who seeks not war, shall answer softly, saying : — 

" ' Go in peace, my brother, and live in peace in that land 
which vou would win.' 


'* Then shall you, Hafela, send on the most of your cattle 
and the women and children through that pass in the moun- 
tains, bidding them to await you in the plain, and after a 
while you shall follow them with your impls. But these 
shall not travel in war array, for carriers must bear their 
fighting shields in bundles and their stabbing spears shall be 
rolled up in mats. Now, on the sixth day of your journey 
you shall camp at the mouth of the pass which the cattle 
and the women have already travelled, and his outposts and 
spies will bring it to the ears of the king that your force is 
sleeping there, purposing to climb the pass on the morrow. 

** But on that night, so soon as the darkness falls, you 
must rise up with your captains and your regiments, leaving 
your fires burning and men about your fires, and shall travel 
very swiftly across the valley, so that an hour before the 
dawn you reach the second range of mountains, and pass it 
by the gorge which is the burying-place of kings. Here 
you shall light a fire, which those who watch will believe to 
be but the fire of a herdsman who is acold. But I, Hokosa, 
also shall be watching, and when I see that fire I will creep, 
with some whom I can trust, to the little northern gate of 
the outer wall, and we will spear those that guard it and 
open the gate, that your army may pass through. Then, 
before the regiments can stand to their arms or those within 
it are awakened, you must storm the inner walls and by 
the light of the burning huts, put the dwellers in the Great 
Place to the spear, and the rays of the rising sun shall crown 
you king. 

" Follow this council of mine, O Prince Hafela, and all 
will go well with you. Neglect it and be lost. There is 
but one thing which you need fear — it is the magic of the 
Messenger, to whom it is given to read the secret thoughts 
of men. But of him take no account, for he is my charge, 
and before ever you seta foot within the Great Place he shall 
have taken his answer back to Him Who sent him." 

Hokosa finished speaking. 



" Have you heard ? " he said to Noma. 

** I have heard." 

" Then speak the message." 

She repeated it word for word, making no fault. * Have 
no fear," she added, '* I shall forget nothing when I stand 
before the prince." 

** You are a woman, but your counsel is good. What 
think you of the plan, Noma ? " 

*' It is deep and well laid," she answered, **and surely it 
would succeed were it not for one thing. The white man, 
Messenger, will be too clever for you, for as you say, he is 
a reader of the thoughts of men." 

** Can the dead read men's thoughts, or if they can, do 
they cry them on the market-place or into the ears of kings ? " 
asked Hokosa. ** Have I not told you that, before I see the 
signal-fire yonder, the Messenger shall sleep sound ? I have 
a medicine, Noma, a slow medicine that none can trace." 

" The Messenger may sleep sound, Hokosa, and yet per- 
chance he may pass on his message to another and, with it, 
his magic. Who can say ? Still, husband, strike on for 
power and greatness and revenge, letting the blow fall where 
it will. 




Three days later it was announced that according to the 
custom of the women of the People of Fire, Noma having 
given birth to a still-born child, was about to start upon a 
journey to the Mount of Purification. Here she would abide 
awhile and make sacrifice to the spirits of her ancestors, 
that they might cease to be angry with her and in future 
protect her from such misfortunes. This not unusual 
domestic incident excited little comment, although it was 
remarked that the four matrons by whom she was to be 
accompanied, in accordance with the tribal etiquette, were 
all of them the wives of soldiers who had deserted to Hafela. 
Indeed, the king himself noticed as much when Hokosa 
made the customary formal application to him to sanction 
the expedition. 

" So be it,*' he said, ** though myself I have lost faith in 
such rites. Also, Hokosa, I think it likely that although 
your wife goes out with company, she will return alone." 

" Why, King ? " asked Hokosa. 

** For this reason — that those who travel with her have 
husbands yonder at the town of the Prince Hafela, and the 
Mount of Purification is on the road thither. Having gone 
so far, they may go farther. Well, let them go, for I desire 
to have none among my people whose hearts turn otherwhere, 
and it would not be wonderful if they should choose to seek 
their lords. But perchance, Hokosa, there are some in this 
town who may use them as messengers to the prince" — 
and he looked at him keenly. 


** I think not, King," said Hokosa. *' None but a fool 
would make use of women to carry secret words or tidings. 
Their tongues are too long and their memories too bad, or 
too uncertain/' 

"Yet I have heard, Hokosa, that you have made use of 
women in many a strange work. Say now, what were you 
doing upon a night a while ago with that fair witch-wife of 
yours yonder in the burying-place of kings, where it is not 
lawful that you should set your foot ? Nay, deny it not. 
You were seen to enter the valley after midnight and to 
return thence at the dawn, and it was seen also that as she 
came homewards your wife walked as one who is drunken, 
and she, whom it is not easy to frighten, wore a face of fear. 
Man, I do not trust you, and were I wise I should hunt you 
hence, or keep you so close that you could scarcely move 
without my knowledge. 

" Why should I trust you ? " Nodwengo went on vehe- 
mently. ** Can a wizard cease from his wizardry, or a plotter 
from his plots ? No, not until the waters run upward and 
the sun shines at night ; not until repentance touches you 
and your heart is changed, which I should hold as much 
a marvel. You were my father's friend and he made you 
great ; yet you could plan with my brother to poison him, 
your king. Nay, be silent; I know it, thqugh I have said 
nothing of it because one that is dear to me has interceded 
for you. You were the priest of the false god, and with that 
god are fallen from your place, yet you have not renounced 
him. You sit still in your kraal and pretend to be asleep, 
but your slumber is that of the serpent which watches his 
time to strike. How do I know that you will not poison 
me as you would have poisoned my father, or stir up re- 
bellion against me, or bring my brother's impis on my 
head ? " 

** If the King thinks any of these things of his servant," 
answered Hokosa in a humble voice, but with dignity, " his 
path is plain : let him put me to death and sleep in peace- 


Who am I that I should fill the ears of a king with my 
defence against these charges, or dare to wrangle with 
him ? " 

"Long ago I should have put you to death, Hokosa/* 
answered Nodwengo sternly, ** had it not been that one has 
pleaded for you, declaring that in you there is good which 
will overcome the evil, and that you who now are an axe 
to cut down my throne, in time to come shall be a roof-tree 
for its support. Also, the law that I obey does not allow me 
to take the blood of men save upon full proof, and against 
you as yet I have no proof. Still, Hokosa, be warned in 
time and let your heart be turned before the grave claims 
your body and the Wicked One your soul." 

" I thank you, King, for your gentle words and your tender 
care for my well-being both on the earth and after I shall 
leave it. But I tell you. King, that I had rather die as your 
fether would have killed me in the old days, or your brother 
would kill me now, did either of them hate or fear me, 
than live on in safety, owing my life to a new law and a 
new mercy that do not befit the great ones of the world. 
King, I am your servant," and giving him the royal salute, 
Hokosa rose and left his presence. 

"At the least there goes a man," said Nodwengo, as he 
watched him depart. 

" Of whom do you speak. King ? " asked Owen, who at 
that moment entered the royal house. 

" Of him whom you must have touched in the door-way, 
Messenger, Hokosa the wizard," answered the king, and he 
told him of what had passed between them, ** I said," he 
added, **that he was a man, and so he is; yet I hold that 
I have done wrong to listen to your pleading and to spare 
him, for I am certain that he will bring bloodshed upon me 
and trouble on the Faith. Think now, Messenger, how full 
must be that man's heart of secret rage and hatred, he who 
was so great and is now so little ! Will he not certainly 
strive to grow great again ? Will he not strive to be avenged 


upon those who humbled him and the religion they have 
chosen ? " 

** It may be," answered Owen, " but if so, he will not 
conquer. I tell you, King, that like water hidden in a rock 
there is good in this man's heart, and that I shall yet find 
a rod wherewith to cause it to gush out and refresh the 

" It is more likely that he will find a spear wherewith to 
cause your blood to gush out and refresh the jackals," 
answered the king grimly ; " but be it as you will. And 
now, what of your business ? " 

** This, King : John, my servant, has returned from the 
coast countries, and he brings me a letter saying that before 
long three white teachers will follow him to take up the 
work which I have begun. I pray that when they come, for 
my sake and for the sake of the truth that I have taught 
you, you will treat them kindly and protect them, remember- 
ing that at first they can know little of your language or 
your customs." 

** I will indeed," said the king, with much concern. 
"But tell me, Messenger, why do you speak of yourself as 
of one who soon will be but a memory ? Do you purpose to 
leave us ? " 

" No, King, but I believe that ere long I shall be recalled. 
I have given my message, my task is well-nigh ended and 
I must be turning home. Save for your sakes I do not sorrow 
at this, for to speak truth I grow very weary," and he smiled 

Hokosa went home alarmed and full of bitterness, for he 
had never guessed that the " servant of the Messenger," as 
he called Nodwengo the King, knew so much about him and 
his plans. His fall was hard to him, but to be thus measured 
up, weighed, and contemptuously forgiven was almost more 
than he could bear. It was the white prophet who had done 
this thing ; he had told Nodwengo of his, Hokosa's, share 

miir I.II5UAKY 


AS-^O^ J.r>(A\ AM) 

1{ I 


Noma idly employed in stringing 


in the plot to murder the late King Umsuka, though how 
he came to know of that matter was beyond guessing. He 
had watched him, or caused him to be watched, when he 
went forth to consult spirits in the place of the dead ; he had 
warned Nodwengo against him. Worst of all^ he had dared 
to treat him with contempt; had pleaded for his life and 
safety, so that he was spared as men spare a snake from 
which the charmer has drawn the fangs. When they met 
in the gate of the king's house yonder this white thief, who 
had stolen his place and power, had even smiled upon him 
and greeted him kindly, and doubtless while he smiled, by 
aid of the magic he possessed, had read him through and 
gone on to tell the story to the king. Well, of this there 
should be an end ; he would kill the Messenger, or himself 
be killed. 

When Hokosa reached his kraal he found Noma sitting 
beneath a fruit tree that grew in it, idly employed in string- 
ing beads, for the work of the household she left to his other 
wife, Zinti, an old and homely woman who thought more of 
the brewing of the beer and the boiling of the porridge than 
of religions or politics or of the will of kings. Of late Noma 
had haunted the shadow of this tree, for beneath it lay that 
child which had been born to her. 

** Does it please the King to grant leave for my journey ? " 
she asked, looking up. 

*' Yes, it pleases him." 

** I am thankful," she answered, *' for I think that if I 
bide here much longer, with ghosts and memories for com- 
pany, I shall go mad," and she glanced at a spot near by, 
where the earth' showed signs of recent disturbance. 

"He gives leave," Hokosa went on, taking no notice of 

her speech, *' but he suspects us. Listen " and he told 

her of the talk that had passed between himself and the 

** The white man has read you as he reads in his written 
books," she answered, with a little laugh. **Well, I said 


that he would be too clever for you, did I not ? It does not 
matter to me, for to-morrow I go upon my journey, and you 
can settle it as you will." 

** Ay ! " answered Hokosa, grinding his teeth, *' it is true 
that he has read me ; but this I promise you, that all books 
shall soon be closed to him. Yet how is it to be done with- 
out suspicion or discovery ? I know many poisons, but all 
of them must be administered, and let him work never so 
cunningly, he who gives a poison can be traced." 

" Then cause some other to give it and let him bear the 
blame," suggested Noma languidly. 

Hokosa made no answer, but walking to the gate of the 
kraal, which was open, he leaned against it lost in thought. 
As he stood thus he saw a woman advancing towards him, 
who carried on her head a small basket of fruit, and knew 
her for one of those whose business it was to wait upon the 
Messenger in his huts, or rather in his house, for by now he 
had built himself a house, and near it a little chapel. This 
woman saw Hokosa also and looked at him sideways, as 
though she would like to stop and speak to him, but feared 
to do so. 

" Good morrow to you, friend," he said. ** How goes it 
with your husband and your house ? " 

Now Hokosa knew well that this woman's husband had 
taken a dislike to her and driven her from his home, filling 
her place with one younger and more attractive. At the 
question the woman's lips began to tremble, and her eyes 
swam with tears. 

** Ah ! great doctor," she said, ** why do you ask of my 
husband ? Have you not heard that he has driven me away 
and that another takes my place ? " 

** Do I hear all the gossip of this town ? " asked Hokosa, 
with a smile. " But come in and tell me the story ; perchance 
I may be able to help you, for I have charms to compel the 
fancy of such faithless ones." 

The woman looked round, and seeing that there was no 


one in sight, she slipped swiftly through the gate of the 
kraal, which he closed behind her. 

" Noma," said Hokosa, ** here is one who tells me that her 
husband has deserted her, and who comes to seek my 
counsel. Bring her milk to drink." 

" There are some wives who would not find that so great 
an evil," replied Noma mockingly, as she rose to do his 

Hokosa winced at the sarcasm, and turning to his visitor, 
said : — 

" Now tell me your tale ; but say first, why are you so 
frightened ? " 

** I am frightened, master," she answered, ** lest any should 
have seen me enter here, for I have become a Christian, and 
the Christians are forbidden to consult the witch-doctors, as 
we were wont to do. For my case, it is " 

*' No need to set it out," broke in Hokosa, waving his 
hand. *' I see it written on your face ; your husband has put 
you away and loves another woman, your own half-sister 
whom you brought up from a child." 

** Ah ! master, you have heard aright." 

" I have not heard, I look upon you and I see. Fool, am 

I not a wizard ? Tell me " and taking dust into his 

hand, he blew the grains this way and that, regarding them 
curiously. ** Yes, it is so. Last night you crept to your 
husband's hut — do you remember, a dog growled at you as 
you passed the gate ? — and there in front of the hut he sat 
with his new wife. She saw you coming, but pretending 
not to see, she threw her arms about his neck, kissing and 
fondling him before your eyes, till you could bear it no longer, 
and revealed yourself, upbraiding them. Then your rival 
taunted you and stirred up the man with bitter words, till at 
length he took a stick and beat you from the door, and there 
is the mark of it upon your shoulder." 

*' It is true, it is too true I " she groaned. 

" Yes, it is true. And now, what do you wish from me ? " 


*' Master, I wish a medicine to make my husband hate my 
rival and to draw his heart back to me." 

** That must be a strong medicine," said Hokosa, ** which 
will turn a man from one who is young and beautiful to one 
who is past her youth and ugly.** 

" I am as I am/' answered the poor woman, with a touch 
of natural dignity, '* but at least I have loved him and worked 
for him for fifteen long years." 

"And that is why he would now be rid of you. for who 
cumbers his kraal with old cattle ? " 

** And yet at times they are the best, Master. Wrinkles 
and smooth skin seem strange upon one pillow," she added, 
glancing at Noma, who came from the hut carrying a bowl 
of milk in her hand. 

" If you seek counsel," said Hokosa quickly, " why do you 
not go to the white man, that Messenger in whom you 
believe, and ask him for a potion to turn your husband's 
heart ? " 

" Master, I have been to him, and he is very good to me, 
for when I was driven out he gave me work to do and food. 
But he told me that he had no medicine for such cases, and 
that the Great Man in the sky alone could soften the breast of 
my husband and cause my sister to cease from her wickedness. 
Last night I went to see whether He would do it, and you 
know what befel me there." 

**That befel you which befalls all fools who put their 
trust in words alone. What will you pay me, woman, if 
I give you the medicine which you seek ? " 

** Alas, master, I am poor. I have nothing to offer you, 
for when I would not stay in my husband's kraal to be a 
servant to his new wife, he took the cow and the five goats 
that belonged to me, as, I being childless, according to our 
ancient law he had the right to do." 

** You are bold who come to ask a doctor to minister to 
you, bearing no fee in your hand," said Hokosa. **Yet, 
because I have pity on you, I will be content with very little. 



Give me that basket of fruit, for my wife has been sick and 
loves its taste." 

*' I cannot do that, Master," answered the woman, ** for 
it is sent by my hand as a present to the Messenger, and he 
knows this and will eat of it after he has made prayer to-day. 
Did I not give it to him, it would be discovered that I had 
left it here with you." 

** Then begone without your medicine,*' said Hokosa, ** for 
I need such fruit." 

The woman rose and said, looking at him wistfully : — 

** Master, if you will be satisfied with other fruits of the 
same sort, I know where I can get them for you." 

" When will you get them ? " 

" Now, within an hour. And till I return I will leave these 
in pledge with you ; but these and no other I must give 
to the Messenger, for he has already seen them and might 
discover the difference ; also I have promised so to do." 

** As you will," said Hokosa. **If you are here with the 
fruit within an hour, the medicine will be ready for you, 
a medicine that shall not fail." 




The woman slipped away secretly. When she had gone 
H oleosa bade his wife bring the basket of fruit into the 

'' It is best that the butcher should kill the ox himselfl" 
she answered meaningly. 

He carried in the basket and set it on the floor. 

" Why do you speak thus, Noma ? " he asked. 

*' Because I will have no hand in the matter, Hokosa. I 
have been the tool of a wizard, and won little joy therefrom. 
The tool of a murderer I will not be ! " 

'' If I kill, it is for the sake of both of us," he said 

** It may be so, Hokosa, or for the sake of the people, or 
for the sake of Heaven above — I do not know and do not 
care ; but I say, do your own killing, for I am sure that even 
less luck will hang to it than hangs to your witchcraft." 

"Of all women you are the most perverse!" he said, 
stamping his foot upon the ground. 

*' Thus you may say again before everything is done, 
husband ; but if it be so, why do you love me and tie me to 
you with your wizardry ? Cut the knot, and let me go my 
wav while vou go vours.'' 

** Woman, I cannot ; but still I bid you beware, for, strive 
as you will, my path must be your path. Moreover, till 
I free you, you cannot lift voice or hand against me." 

Then, while she watched him curiously, Hokosa fetched his 
medicines and took from them some powder fine as dust and 




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two tiny crowquills. Placing a fruit before him, he inserted 
one of these quills into its substance, and filling the second 
with the powder, he shook its contents into it and withdrew 
the tube. This process he repeated four times on each of the 
fruits, replacing them one by one in the basket. So deftly 
did he work upon them, that however closely they were 
scanned none could guess that they had been tampered with. 

** Will it kill at once ? " asked Noma. 

** No, indeed ; but he who eats those fruits will be seized 
on the third day with dysentery and fever, and these will 
cling to him till within seven weeks — or if he be very strong, 
three months — he dies. This is the best of poisons, for it 
works through nature and can be traced by none." 

" Except, perchance, by that Spirit Whom the white man 
worships, and Who also works through nature, as you 
learned, Hokosa, when He rolled the lightning back upon 
your head, shattering your god and beating down your 

Then of a sudden terror seized the wizard, and springing 
to his feet, he cursed his wife till she trembled before him. 

"Vile woman, and double-faced ! " he said, ** why do you 
push me forward with one hand and with the other drag me 
back ? Why do you whisper evil counsel into one ear and 
into the other prophesy of misfortunes to come ? Had it 
not been for you, I should have let this business lie ; I should 
have taken my fate and have been content. But day by day 
you have taunted me with my fall and grieved over the 
greatness that you have lost, till at length you have driven 
me to this. Why cannot you be all good or all wicked, or at 
the least, through righteousness and sin, faithful to my 
interest and your own ? " 

** Because I hate you, Hokosa, and yet can strike you only 
through my tongue and your mad love for me. I am fast in 
your power, but thus at least I can make you feel something 
of my own pain. Hark I I hear that woman at the gate. Will 
you give her back the basket, or will you not ? Whatever 


you may choose to do, do not say in after days that I urged 
you to the deed." 

** Truly you are great-hearted I " he answered, with cold 
contempt ; ** one for whom I did well to enter into treachery 
and sin ! So be it : having gone so far upon it, come what 
may, I will not turn back from this journey. Let in that fool ! " 

Presently the woman stood before them, bearing with her 
another basket of fruit. 

** These are what you seek. Master," she said, ** though 
I was forced to win them by theft. Now give me my own 
and the medicine and let me go." 

He gave her the first basket, and with it, wrapped in a 
piece of kidskin, some of the same powder with which he had 
doctored the fruits. 

** What shall I do with this ? '* she asked. 

** You must find means to sprinkle it upon your sister's 
food, and thereafter your husband shall come to hate even 
the sight of her." 

" But will he come to love me again ? " 

Hokosa shrugged his shoulders. 

** I know not," he answered ; ** that is for you to see to. 
Yet this is sure, that if a tree grows up before the house of a 
man, shutting it off from the sunlight, when that tree is cut 
down the sun shines upon his house again." 

** It is nothing to the sun on what he shines/' said the 

** If the saying does not please you, then forget it. I 
promise you this and no more, that very soon the man shall 
cease to turn to your rival." 

"The medicine will not harm her?" asked the woman 
doubtfully. " She has worked me bitter wrong indeed, yet 
she is my sister, whom I nursed when she was little, and 
I do not wish to do her hurt. If only he will welcome me 
back and treat me kindly, I am willing even that she should 
dwell on beneath my husband's roof, bearing his children, 
for will they not be of my own blood ? " 


"Woman," answered Hokosa impatiently, "you weary 
me with your talk. Did I say that the charm would hurt 
her ? I said that it would cause your husband to hate the 
sight of her. Now begone, taking or leaving it, and let me 
rest. If your mind is troubled, throw aside that medicine, 
and go soothe it with such sights as that you saw last 

On hearing this the woman sprang up, hid away the 
poison in her hair, and taking her basket of fruit, passed 
from the kraal as secretly as she had entered it. 

" Why did you give her death-medicine ? " asked Noma of 
Hokosa, as he stood staring after her. ** Have you a hate to 
satisfy against the husband or the girl who is her rival ? " 

** None," he answered, ** for they have never crossed my 
path. Oh, foolish woman ! cannot you read my plan ? " 

" Not altogether, Husband." 

" Listen then : this woman will give to her sister a 
medicine of which in the end she must die. She may be 
discovered or she may not, but it is certain that she will be 
suspected, seeing that the bitterness of the quarrel between 
them is known. Also she will give to the Messenger certain 
fruits, after eating of which he will be taken sick and in due 
time die, of just such a disease as that which carries off the 
woman's rival. Now, if any think that he is poisoned, which 
I trust none will, whom will they suppose to have poisoned 
him, though indeed they can never prove the crime ? " 

** The plan is clever," said Noma with admiration, " but 
in it I see a flaw. The woman will say that she had the 
drug from you, or, at the least, will babble of her visit to 

** Not so," answered Hokosa, ** for on this matter the 
greatest talker in the world would keep silence. Firstly, 
she, being a Christian, dare not own that she has visited 
a witch-doctor. Secondly, the fruit she brought in pay- 
ment was stolen, therefore she will say nothing of it. 
Thirdly, to admit that she had medicine from me would 



be to admit her guilt, and that she will scarcely do even 
under torture, which by the new law it is not lawful to 
apply. Moreover, none saw her come here, and I should 
deny her visit." 

**The plan is very clever," said Noma again. 

" It is very clever," he repeated complacently ; " never 
have I made a better one. Now throw those fruits to the 
she goats that are in the kraal, and bum the basket, while 
I go and talk to some in the Great Place, telling them that 
I have returned from counting my cattle on the mountain, 
whither I went after I had bowed the knee in the house of 
the king." 

Two hours later, Hokosa, having made a wide detour and 
talked to sundry of his acquaintances about the condition of 
his cattle, might have been seen walking slowly along the 
north side of the Great Place towards his own kraal. His 
path lay past the chapel and the little house that Owen had 
built to dwell in. This house was furnished with a broad 
verandah, and upon it sat the Messenger himself, eating his 
evening meal. Hokosa saw him, and a great desire entered 
his heart to learn whether or no he had partaken of the 
poisoned fruit. Also it occurred to him that it would be 
wise if, before the end came, he could contrive to divert all 
possible suspicion from himself, by giving the impression 
that he was now upon friendly terms with the great white 
teacher and not disinclined even to become a convert to his 

For a moment he hesitated, seeking an excuse. One soon 
suggested itself to his ready mind. That very morning the 
king had told him not obscurely that Owen had pleaded for 
his safety and saved him from being put upon his trial on 
charges of witchcraft and murder. He would go to him, 
now at once, playing the part of a grateful penitent, and the 
White Man's magic must be keen indeed if it availed to 
pierce the armour of his practised craft. 


So Hokosa went up and squatted himself down native 
fashion among a little group of converts who were waiting 
to see their teacher upon one business or another. He was 
not more than ten paces from the verandah, and sitting thus 
he saw a sight that interested him strangely. Having eaten 
a little of a dish of roasted meat, Owen put out his hand 
and took a fruit from a basket that the wizard knew well. 
At this moment he looked up and recognised Hokosa. 

" Do you desire speech with me, Hokosa ? " he asked in 
his gentle voice. ** If so, be pleased to come hither." 

** Nay, Messenger," answered Hokosa, " I desire speech 
with you indeed, but it is ill to stand between a hungry man 
and his food." 

** I care little for my food," answered Owen; "at the 
least it can wait," and he put down the fruit. 

Then suddenly a feeling to which the wizard had been for 
many years a stranger took possession of him — a feeling of 
compunction. That man was about to partake of what 
would cause his death — of what he, Hokosa, had prepared 
in order that it should cause his death. He was good, he 
was kindly, none could allege a wrong deed against him ; 
and, foolishness though it might be, so was the doctrine 
that he taught. Why should he kill him ? It was true 
that never till that moment had he hesitated, by fair means 
or foul, to remove an enemy or rival from his path. He had 
been brought up in this teaching ; it was part of the educa- 
tion of wizards to be merciless, for they reigned by terror 
and evil craft. Their magic lay chiefly in clairvoyance and 
powers of observation developed to a pitch that was almost 
superhuman, and the best of their weapons was poison in 
infinite variety, whereof the guild alone understood the pro- 
perties and preparation. Therefore there was nothing strange, 
nothing unusual in this deed of devilish and cunning murder 
that the sight of its doing should stir him thus, and yet it 
did stir him. He was minded to stop the plot, to let things 
take their course. 


Some sense of the futility of all such strivings came home 
to him, and as in a glass, for Hokosa was a man of imagina- 
tion, he foresaw their end. A little success, a little failure, 
it scarcely mattered which, and then — that end. Within 
twenty years, or ten, or mayhap even one, what would this 
present victory or defeat mean to him ? Nothing so far as 
he was concerned ; that is, nothing so far as his life of 
to-day was concerned. Yet, if he had another life, it might 
mean everything. There was another life ; he knew it, who 
had dragged back from its borders the spirits of the dead, 
though what might be the state and occupations of those 
dead he did not know. Yet he believed — why he could 
not tell — that they were affected vitally by their acts and 
behaviour here ; and his intelligence warned him that good 
must always flow from good, and evil from evil. To kill 
this man was evil, and of it only evil could come. 

What did he care whether Hafela ruled the nation or Nod- 
wengo, and whether it worshipped the God of the Christians 
or the god of Fire — who, by the way, had proved himself 
so singularly inefficient in the hour of trial. Now that he 
thought of it, he much preferred Nodwengo to Hafela, for 
the one was a just man and the other a tyrant ; and he him- 
self was more comfortable as a wealthy private person than 
he had been as a head medicine-man and a chief of wizards. 
He would let things stand ; he would prevent the Messenger 
from eating of that fruit. A word could do it ; he had but 
to suggest that it was unripe or not wholesome at this 
season of the year, and it would be cast aside. 

All these reflections or their substance, passed through 
Hokosa's mind in a few instants of time, and already he 
was rising to go to the verandah and translate their moral 
into acts, when another thought occurred to him — How 
should he face Noma with this tale ? He could give up his 
own ambitions, but could he bear her mockery, as day by day 
she taunted him with his faint-heartedness and reproached 
him with his failure to regain greatness and to make her 


great ? He forgot that he might conceal the truth from 
her; or rather, he did not contemplate such concealment, 
of which their relations were too peculiar and too intimate 
to permit. She hated him, and he worshipped her with 
a half-inhuman passion — a passion so unnatural, indeed, 
that it suggested the horrid and insatiable longings of the 
damned — and yet their souls were naked to each other. It 
was their fate that they could hide nothing each from each 
— they were cursed with the awful necessity of candour. 

It would be impossible that he should keep from Noma 
an3^hing that he did or did not do ; it would be still more 
impossible that she could conceal from him even such 
imaginings and things as it is common for women to hold 
secret. Her very bitterness, which it had been policy for 
her to cloak or soften, would gush from her lips at the sight 
of him ; nor, in the depth of his rage and torment, could he, 
on the other hand, control the ill-timed utterance of his 
continual and overmastering passion. It came to this, 
then : he must go forward, and against his better judgment, 
because he was afraid to go back, for the whip of a woman*s 
tongue drove him on remorselessly. It was better that the 
Messenger should die, and the land run red with blood, than 
that he should be forced to endure this scourge. 

So with a sigh, Hokosa sank back to the ground and 
watched while Owen ate three of the poisoned fruits. After 
a pause, he took a fourth and bit into it, but not seeming to 
find it to his taste, he threw it to a child that was waiting 
by the verandah for any scraps which might be left over 
from his meal. The child caught it, and devoured it eagerly. 

Then, smiling at the little boy's delight, the Messenger 
called to Hokosa to come up and speak with him. 




HoKOSA advanced to the verandah, and bowed to the white 
man with grave dignity. 

** Be seated," said Owen. " Will you not eat ? though I 
have nothing to offer you but these,** and he pushed the 
basket of fruits towards him, adding, ** The best of them, I 
fear, are already gone." 

** I thank you, no. Messenger ; such fruits are not always 
wholesome at this season of the year. I have known them 
to breed dysentery." 

** Indeed," said Owen. " If so, I trust that I may escape. 
I have suffered from that sickness, and I think that another 
bout of it would kill me. In future I will avoid them. But 
what do you seek with me, Hokosa ? Enter and tell me," 
and he led the way into a little sitting-room. 

** Messenger," said the wizard, with deep humility, ** I 
am a proud man ; I have been a great man, and it is no 
light thing to me to humble myself before the face of my 
conqueror. Yet I am come to this. To-day when I was in 
audience with the king, craving a small boon of his gracious- 
ness, he spoke to me sharp and bitter words. He told me 
that he had been minded to put me on trial for my life 
because of various misdoings which are alleged against me 
in the past, but that you had pleaded for me and that for 
this cause he spared me. I come to thank you for your 
gentleness, Messenger, for I think that had I been in your 
place I should have whispered otherwise in the ear of the 


" Say no more of it, friend," said Owen kindly, " We 
are all of us sinners, and it is my place to push back your 
ancient sins, not to drag them into the light of day and 
clamour for their punishment It is true I know that you 
plotted with the Prince Hafela to poison Umsuka the King, 
for it was revealed to me. It chanced, however, that I was 
able to recover Umsuka from his sickness, and Hafela is 
fled, so why should I bring up the deed against you ? It is 
true that you still practise witchcraft, and that you hate and 
strive against the holy Faith which I preach ; but you were 
brought up to wizardry and have been the priest of another 
creed, and these things plead for you. 

'' Also, Hokosa, I can see the good and evil struggling in 
your soul, and I pray and I believe that in the end the good 
will master the evil ; that you who have been pre-eminent 
in sin will come to be pre-eminent in righteousness. Oh ! 
be not stubborn, but listen with your ear, and let your heart 
be softened. The gate stands open, and I am the guide 
appointed to show you the way without reward or fee. 
Follow them ere it be too late, that in time to come when 
my voice is stilled you also may be able to direct the feet of 
wanderers into the paths of peace. It is the hour of prayer; 
come with me, I beg of you, and listen to some few words 
of the message on my lips, and let your spirit be nurtured 
with them, and the Sun of Truth arise upon its darkness.'* 

Hokosa heard, and before this simple eloquence his wisdom 
sank confounded. More, his intelligence was stirred, and a 
desire came upon him to investigate and examine the canons 
of a creed that could produce such men as this. He made 
no answer, but waiting while Owen robed himself, he 
followed him to the chapel. It was full of new-made 
Christians who crowded even the doorways, but they gave 
place to him, wondering. Then the service began — a short 
arid simple service. First Owen offered up some prayer for 
the welfare of the infant Church, for the conversion of the 
unbelieving, for the safety of the king and the happiness of 


the people. Then John, the Messenger's first disciple, read 
aloud from a manuscript a portion of the Scripture which 
his master had translated. It was St. Paul's exposition of 
the resurrection from the dead, and the grandeur of its 
thoughts and language were by no means lost upon Hokosa, 
who, savage and heathen though he might be, was also a 
man of intellect. 

The reading over, Owen addressed the congregation, tak- 
ing for his text, ** Thy sin shall find thee out ". Being now 
a master of the language, he preached very well and earnestly, 
and indeed the subject was not difficult to deal with in the 
presence of an audience many of whose pasts had been 
steeped in iniquities of no common kind. As he talked of 
judgment to come for the unrepentant, some of his hearers 
groan*ed and even wept; and when, changing his note, he 
dwelt upon the blessed future state of those who earned for- 
giveness, their faces were lighted up with joy. 

But perhaps among all those gathered before him there 
were none more deeply interested than Hokosa and one 
other, that woman to whom he had sold the poison, and 
who, as it chanced, sat next to him. Hokosa, watching her 
face as he was skilled to do, saw the thrusts of the preacher 
go home, and grew sure that already in her jealous haste 
she had found opportunity to sprinkle the medicine upon 
her rival's food. She believed it to be but a charm indeed, 
yet knowing that in using such charms she had done 
wickedly, she trembled beneath the words of denunciation, 
and rising at length, crept from the chapel. 

" Truly, -her sin will find her out," thought Hokosa to 
himself, and then in a strange half-impersonal fashion he 
turned his thoughts to the consideration of his own case. 
Would his sin find him out ? he wondered. Before he 
could answer that question, it was necessary first to deter- 
mine whether or no he had committed a sin. The man 
before him — that gentle and yet impassioned man — bore in 
his vitals the seed of death which he, Hokosa, had planted 


there. Was it wrong to have done this ? It depended by 
what standard the deed was judged. According to his own 
code, the code on which he had been educated and which 
hitherto he had followed with exactness, it was not wrong. 
That code taught the necessity of self-aggrandisement, or 
at least and at all costs the necessity of self-preservation. 
This white preacher stood in his path ; he had humiliated 
him, Hokosa, and in the end, either of himself or through 
his influences, it was probable that he would destroy him. 
Therefore he must strike before in his own person he 
received a mortal blow, and having no other means at his 
command, he struck through treachery and poison. 

That was his, law which for many generations had been 
followed and respected by his class with the tacit assent of 
the nation. According to this law then, he had done no 
wrong. But now the victim by the altar, who did not know 
that already he was bound upon the altar, preached a new 
and a very different doctrine under which, were it to be 
believed, he, Hokosa, was one of the worst of sinners. The 
matter, then, resolved itself to this : which of these two 
rules of life was the right rule ? Which of them should a 
man follow to satisfy his conscience and to secure his abid- 
ing welfare ? Apart from the motives that swayed him, as 
a mere matter of ethics, this problem interested Hokosa not 
a little, and he went homewards determined to solve it if he 
might. That could be done in one way only — by a close 
examination of both systems. The first he knew well ; he 
had practised it for nearly forty years. Of the second he 
had but an inkling. Also, if he would learn more of it he 
must make haste, seeing that its exponent in some short 
while would cease to be in a position to set it out. 

" I trust that you will come again," said Owen to Hokosa 
as they left the chapel. 

** Yes, indeed. Messenger," answered the wizard ; " I 
will come every day, and if you permit it, I will attend your 
private teachings also, for I accept nothing without exam- 


ination, and I greatly desire to study this new doctrine of 
yours, root and flower and fruit." 

On the morrow Noma started upon her journey. As the 
matrons who accompanied her gave out with a somewhat 
suspicious persistency, its ostensible object was to visit the 
Mount of Purification, and there by fastings and solitude 
to purge herself of the sin of having given birth to a stillborn 
child. For amongst savage peoples such an accident is apt 
to be looked upon as little short of a crime, or, at the least, 
as indicating that the woman concerned is the object of the 
indignation of spirits who need to be appeased. To this 
Mount, Noma went, and there performed the customary rites. 

** Little wonder," she thought to herself, " that the spirits 
were angry with her, seeing that yonder in the burying- 
ground of kings she had dared to break in upon their rest" 

From the Place of Purification she travelled on ten days' 
journey with her companions till they reached the mountain 
fastness where Hafela had established himself. The town 
and its surroundings were of extraordinary strength, and so 
well guarded that it was only after considerable difficulty 
and delay that the women were admitted. Hearing of her 
arrival and that she had words for him, Hafela sent for 
Noma at once, receiving her by night and alone in his 
principal hut. She came and stood before him, and he 
looked at her beauty with admiring eyes, for he could not 
forget the woman whom the cunning of Hokosa had forced 
him to put away. 

** Whence come you, pretty one ? " he asked, ** and 
wherefore come you ? Are you weary of your husband, 
that you fly back to me ? If so, you are welcome indeed ; 
for know. Noma, that I still love you.'* 

** Ay, Prince, I am weary of my husband sure enough; 
but I do not fly to you, for he holds me fast to him with 
bonds that you cannot understand, and fast to him while he 
lives I must remain." 


" What hinders, Noma, that having got you here I should 
keep you here? The cunning and magic of Hokosa may 
be great, but they will need to be still greater to win you 
from my arms." 

" This hinders, Prince, that you are playing for a higher 
stake than that of a woman's love, and if 3'ou deal thus by 
me and my husband, then of a surety you will lose the 

*» What stake. Noma ? " 

" The stake of the crown of the People of Fire." 
" And why should I lose it if I take you as a wife ? " 
'* Because Hokosa, seeing that I do not return and 
learning from his spies why I do not return, will warn the 
king, and by many means bring all your plans to nothing. 
Listen now to the words of Hokosa that he has set between 
my lips to deliver to you " — and she repeated to him all the 
message without fault or fail. 

" Say it again," he said, and she obeyed. 
Then he answered : — 

" Truly the skill of Hokosa is great, and well he knows 
how to set a snare ; but I think that if by his counsel I 
should springe the bird, he will be too clever a man to keep 
upon the threshold of my throne. He who sets one snare 
may set twain, and he who sits by the threshold may desire 
to enter the house of kings wherein there is no space for 
two to dwell." 

** Is this the answer that I am to take back to Hokosa ? '* 
asked Noma. ** It will scarcely bind him to your cause, 
Prince, and I wonder that you dare to speak it to me who 
am his wife." 

" I dare to speak it to you, Noma, because, although you 
be his wife, all wives do not love their lords ; and I think 
that, perchance in days to come, you would choose rather 
to hold the hand of a young king than that of a witch-doctor 
sinking into eld. Thus shall 3'ou answer Hokosa : You 
shall say to him that I have heard his words and that 


I find them very good^ and will walk along the path which 
he has made. Here before you I swear by the oath that 
may not be broken — the sacred oath, calling down ruin 
upon my head should I break one word of it — that if by 
his aid I succeed in this great venture, I will pay him the 
price he asks. After myself, the king, he shall be the 
greatest man among the people ; he shall be general of the 
armies ; he shall be captain of the council and head of the 
doctors, and to him shall be given half the cattle of Nod- 
wengo. Also, into his hand I will deliver all those who 
cling to this faith of the Christians, and, if it pleases him, 
he shall offer them as a sacrifice to his god. This I swear, 
and you, Noma, are witness to the oath. Yet it may chance 
that after he, Hokosa, has gathered up all this pomp and 
greatness, he himself shall be gathered up by Death, that 
harvest-man who soon or late will garner every ear ; " and 
he looked at her meaningly. 

" It may be so. Prince," she answered. 

" It may be so," he repeated, **and when " 

** When it is so, then. Prince, we will talk together, but 
not till then. Nay, touch me not, for were he to command 
me, Hokosa has this power over me that I must show him 
all that you have done, keeping nothing back. Let me go 
now to the place that is made ready for me, and afterwards 
you shall tell me again and more fully the words that 
I must say to Hokosa my husband." 

On the morrow Hafela held a secret council of his great 
men, and the next day an embassy departed to Nodwengo 
the king, taking to him that message which Hokosa, 
through Noma his wife, had put into the lips of the prince. 
Twenty days later the embassy returned saying that it 
pleased the king to grant the prayer of his brother Hafela, 
and bringing with it the tidings that the white man, 
Messenger, had fallen sick, and it was thought that he 
uld die. 



So in due course the women and children of the people 
of Hafela started upon their journey towards the new land 
where it was given out that they should live, and with them 
went Noma, purposing to leave them as they drew near the 
gates of the Great Place of the king. A while after, Hafela 
and his impis followed with carriers bearing their fighting 
shields in bundles, and having their stabbing spears rolled 
up in mats. 




HoKOSA kept his promise. On the morrow of his first 
attendance there he was again to be seen in the chapel, 
and after the service was over he waited on Owen at his 
house and listened to his private teaching. Day by day he 
appeared thus, till at length he became master of the whole 
doctrine of Christianity, and discovered that that which at 
first had struck him as childish and even monstrous, now 
presented itself to him in a new and very different light. 
The conversion of Hokosa came upon him through the 
gate of reason, not as is usual among savages — and some 
who are not savage— by that of the emotions. Given the 
position of a universe torn and groaning beneath the dual 
rule of Good and Evil, two powers of well-nigh equal potency, 
he found no great difficulty in accepting this tale of the 
self-sacrifice of the God of Good that He might wring the 
race He loved out of the conquering grasp of the god of 111. 
There was a simple majesty about this scheme of redemp- 
tion which appealed to one side of his nature. Indeed, 
Hokosa felt that under certain conditions and in a more 
limited fashion he would have been capable of attempting 
as much himself. 

Once his reason was satisfied, the rest followed in a 
natural sequence. Within three weeks from the hour of 
his first attendance at the chapel Hokosa was at heart a 

He was a Christian, although as yet he did not confess 
; but he was also the most miserable man among the 


nation of the Sons of Fire. The iniquities of his past life 
had become abominable to him ; but he had committed 
them in ignorance, and he understood that they were not 
beyond forgiveness. Yet high above them all towered one 
colossal crime which, as he believed, could never be pardoned 
to him in this world or the next. He was the treacherous 
murderer of the Messenger of God ; he was in the very 
act of silencing the Voice that had proclaimed truth in the 
dark places of his soul and the dull ears of his country- 

The deed was done ; no power on earth could save its 
victim. Within a week from the day of eating that fatal 
fruit Owen began to sicken, then the dysentery had seized 
him which slowly but surely was wasting out his life. Yet 
he, the murderer, was helpless, for with this form of the 
disease no medicine could cope. With agony in his heart, 
an agony that was shared by thousands of the people, 
Hokosa watched the decrease of the white man's strength, 
and reckoned the days that would elapse before the end. 
Having such sin as this upon his soul, though Owen 
entreated him earnestly, he would not permit himself to be 
baptised. Twice he went near to consenting, but on each 
occasion an ominous and terrible incident drove him from 
the door of mercy. 

Once, when the words " I will " were almost on his lips, 
a woman broke in upon their conference bearing a dying 
boy in her arms. 

" Save him,'* she implored, ** save him, Messenger, for 
he is my only son ! " 

Owen looked at him and shook his head. 

** How came he like this ? '^ he asked. 

" I know not, Messenger, but he has been sick ever since 
he ate of a certain fruit which you gave to him ; " and she 
recalled to his mind the incident of the throwing of a 
fruit to the child, which she had witnessed. 

" I remember," said Owen. " It is strange, but I also 


have been sick from the day that I ate of those fruits ; yes, 
and you, Hokosa, warned me against them/' 

Then he blessed the boy and prayed over him till he died ; 
but when afterwards he looked round for Hokosa, it was to 
find that he had gone. 

Some eight days later, having to a certain extent recovered 
from this shock, Hokosa went one morning to Owen's house 
and talked to him. 

"Messenger," he said, **is it necessary to baptism that 
I should confess all my sins to you ? If so, I can never be 
baptised, for there is wickedness upon my hands which 
I am unable to tell into the ear of living man." 

Owen thought and answered : — 

** It is necessary that you should repent of all your sins, 
and that you should confess them to heaven ; it is not 
necessary that you should confess them to me, who am 
but a man like yourself." 

"Then I will be baptised," said Hokosa with a sigh of 

At this moment, as it chanced, their interview was again 
interrupted, for runners came from the king requesting the 
immediate presence of the Messenger, if he were well enough 
to attend, upon a matter connected with the trial of a woman 
for murder. Thinking that he might be of service, Owen, 
leaning on the shoulder of Hokosa, for already he was too 
weak to walk far, crept to the litter which was waiting for 
him, and was borne to the place of judgment that was before 
the house of the king. Hokosa followed, more from 
curiosity than for any other reason, for he had heard of no 
murder being committed, and his old desire to be acquainted 
with everything that passed was still strong on him. The 
people made way for him, and he seated himself in the first 
line of spectators immediately opposite to the king and three 
other captains who were judges in the case. So soon as 
Owen had joined the judges, the prisoner was brought before 
them, and to his secret terror Hokosa recognised in her that 


woman to whom he had given the poison in exchange for 
the basket of fruit. 

Now it seemed to Hokosa that his doom was on him, for 
she would certainly confess that she had the drug from him. 
He thought of flight only to reject the thought, for to fly 
would be to acknowledge himself an accessory. No, he 
would brazen it out, for after all his word was as good tfs 
hers. With the prisoner came an accuser, her husband, 
who seemed sick, and he it was who opened the case 
against her. 

"This woman," he said, **was my wife. I divorced her 
for barrenness, as I have a right to do according to our 
ancient law, and I took another woman to wife, her half- 
sister. This woman was jealous ; she plagued me continu- 
ally, and insulted her sister, so that I was forced to drive 
her away. After that she came to my house, and though 
they said nothing of it at the time, she was seen by two 
servants of mine to sprinkle something in the bowl wherein 
our food was cooking. Subsequently my wife, this woman's 
half-sister, was taken ill with dysentery. I also was taken 
ill with dysentery, but I still live to tell this story before 
you, O King, and your judges, though I know not for how 
long I live. My wife died yesterday, and I buried her 
this morning. I accuse the woman of having murdered 
her, either by witchcraft or by means of a medicine which 
she sprinkled on the food, or by both. I have spoken.'' 

" Have you anything to say ? ** asked the king of the 
prisoner. ** Are you guilty of the crime whereof this man 
who was your husband charges you, or does he lie ? " 

Then the woman answered in a low and broken voice : — 

" I am guilty, King. Listen to my story : *' and she told 
it all as she told it to Hokosa. " I am guilty," she added, 
" and may the Great Man in the sky, of Whom the Messenger 
has taught us, forgive me. My sister's blood is upon my 
hands, and for aught I know the blood of my husband 
yonder will also be on my hands. I seek no mercy ; indeed. 


it is better that I should die ; but I would say this in self- 
defence, that I did not think to kill my sister. I believed 
that I was giving to her a potion which would cause her 
husband to hate her and no more." 

Here she looked round and her eyes met those of Hokosa. 

" Who told you that this was so ? " asked one of the 

" A witch-doctor," she answered, " from whom I bought 
the medicine in the old days, long ago, when Umsuka was 

Hokosa gasped. Why should this woman have spared 
him ? 

No further question was asked of her, and the judges 
consulted together. At length the king spoke. 

"Woman," he said, "you are condemned to die. You 
will be taken to the Doom Tree, and there be hanged. Out 
of those who are assembled to try you, two, the Messenger 
and myself, have given their vote in favour of mercy, but 
the majority think otherwise. They say that a law has been 
passed against murder by means of witchcraft and secret 
medicine, and that should we let you go free, the people 
will make a mock of that law. So be it. Go in peace. 
To-morrow you must die, and may forgiveness await you 

" I ask nothing else," said the woman. " It is best that 
I should die." 

Then they led her away. As she passed Hokosa she 
turned and looked him full in the eyes, till he dropped his 
head abashed. Next morning she was executed, and he 
learned that her last words were : ** Let it come to the ears 
of him who sold me the poison, telling me that it was but 
a harmless drug, that as I hope to be forgiven, so I forgive 
him, believing that my silence may win for him time for 
repentance, before he follows on the road I tread." 

Now, when Hokosa heard these words he shut himself 
up in his house for three days, giving out that he was sick. 


Nor would he go near to Owen, being altogether without 
hope, and not believing that baptism or any other rite could 
avail to purge such crimes as his. Truly his sin had found 
him out, and the burden of it was intolerable. So intolerable 
did it become, that at length he determined to be done with 
it. He could live no more. He would die, and by his own 
hand, before he was called upon to witness the death of the 
man whom he had murdered. To this end he made his pre- 
parations. For Noma he left no message ; for though his 
heart still hungered after her, he knew well that she hated 
him and would rejoice at his death. 

When all was ready he sat down to think a while, and as 
he thought, a man entered his hut saying that the Messenger 
desired to see him. At first he was minded not to go, then 
it occurred to him that it would be well if he could die with 
a clean heart. Why should he not tell all to the white man, 
and before he could be delivered up to justice take that poison 
which he had prepared ? It was impossible that he should 
be forgiven, yet he desired that his victim should learn how 
deep was his sorrow and repentance, before he proved it by 
preceding him to death. So he rose and went. 

He found Owen in his house, lying in a rude chair and 
propped up by pillows of bark. Now he was wasted almost 
to a shadow, and in the pale' pinched face his dark eyes, 
always large and spiritual, shone with unnatural lustre, 
while his delicate hands were so thin that when he held 
them up in blessing the light showed through them. 

** Welcome, friend," he said. " Tell me, why have you 
deserted me of late ? Have you been ill ? " 

** No, Messenger," answered Hokosa, ** that is, not in my 
body. I have been sick at heart, and therefore I have not 

*' What, Hokosa, do your doubts still torment you ? 
I thought that my prayers had been heard, and that power 
had been given me to set them at rest for ever. Man, let 
m? h?2^r the trouble, and swiftly, fpr cannot you who are 



a doctor see that I shall not be here for long to talk with 
you ? My days are numbered, Hokosa, and my work is 
almost done." 

'* I know it," answered Hokosa. " And, Messenger, my 
davs are also numbered." 

"How is this ? " asked Owen, " seeing that you are well 
and strong. Does an enemy put you in danger of your life." 

** Yes, Messenger, and I myself am that enemy ; for to- 
day I, who am no longer fit to live, must die by my own 
hand. Nay, listen and you will say that I do well, for before 
I go I would tell you all. Messenger, you are doomed, are 
you not ? Well, it was I who doomed you. That fruit 
which you ate a while ago was poisoned, and by my hand, 
for I am a master of such arts. From the beginning I hated 
you, as well I might, for had you not worsted me and torn 
power from my grasp, and placed the people and the king 
under the rule of another God ? Therefore, when all else 
failed, I determined to murder you, and I did the d^ed by 
means of that woman who not long ago was hung for the 
killing of her sister, though in truth she was innocent" 
And he told him what had passed between himself and the 
woman, and told him also of the plot which he had hatched 
to kill Nodwengo and the Christians, and to set Hafela on 
the throne. 

** She was innocent," he went on, " but I am guilty. How 
guilty you and I know alone. Do you remember that day 
when you ate the fruit, how after it I accompanied you to 
the church yonder and listened to your preaching ? ' Your 
sin shall find you out,* you said, and of a surety mine has 
found me out. For, Messenger, it came about that in listen- 
ing to you then and afterwards, 1 grew to love you and to 
believe the words you taught, and therefore am I of all men 
the most miserable, and therefore must I, who have been 
great and the councillor of kings, perish miserably by the 
death of a dog. 

** Now curse me, and let me go." 


3^- ^J 

TJi jt ^BFk^ 

Tir*. >'"'" VOP.K 

ASTOU, LtyOX, >N1) 




When Owen heard that it was Hokosa who had poisoned 
him, he groaned and hid his face in his hands, and thus he 
remained till the evil tale was finished. Now he lifted his 
head and spoke, but not to Hokosa. 

" O God," he said, " I thank Thee th^t at the cost of my 
poor life Thou hast been pleased to lead this sinner towards 
the Gate of Righteousness, and to save alive those whom 
Thou has sent me to gather to Thy Fold." 

Then he looked at Hokosa and said : — 

" Unhappy man, is not your cup full enough of crime, and 
have you not sufficiently tempted the mercy of Heaven, that 
you would add to all your evil deeds that of self-murder ? " 

** It is better to die to-day by my own hand," answered 
Hokosa, ** than to-morrow among the mockery of the people 
to fall a victim to your vengeance, Messenger." 

'* Vengeance ! Did I speak to you of vengeance ? Who 
am I that I should take vengeance upon one who has re- 
pented ? Hokosa, freely do I forgive you all, even as in 
some few days I hope to be forgiven. Freely and fully from 
my heart do I forgive you, nor shall my lips tell one word 
of the sin that you have worked against me." 

Now, when Hokosa heard those words, for a moment he 
stared stupefied ; then he fell upon his knees before Owen, 
and bowing his head till it touched the teacher's feet, he 
burst into bitter weeping. 

" Rise and hearken," said Owen gently. " Weep not 
because I have shown kindness to you, for that is my duty 


and no more, but for your sins in your own heart weep now 
and ever. Yet for your comfort I tell you that if you do this, 
of a surety they shall be forgiven to you. Hokosa, you have 
indeed lost thai which you loved, and henceforth you must 
follow after that which you did not desire. In the very grave 
of error you have found truth, and from the depths of sin you 
shall pluck righteousness. Ay, that Cross which you deemed 
accursed shall lift you up on high, for by it you shall be 

Hokosa heard and shivered. 

** Who set those words between your lips, Messenger ? " 
he whispered. 

** Who set them, Hokosa ? Nay, I know not — or rather, 
I know well. He set them Who teaches us to speak all 
things that are good." 

*' It must be so, indeed," replied Hokosa. ** Yet I have 
heard them before ; I have heard them from the lips of the 
dead, and with them went this command : that when they 
fell upon my ears again I should * take them for a sign, and 
let my heart be turned '." 

" Tell me that tale," said Owen. 

So he told him, and this time it was the white man who 

" Horrible has been your witchcraft, O Son of Darkness ! " 
said Owen, when he had finished ; ** yet it would seem that 
it was permitted to you to find truth in the pit of sorcer)-. 
Obey, obey, and let your heart be turned. The dead told 
you that you should be set high above the nation and its 
king, and that saying I cannot read, though it may be ful- 
filled in some fashion of which to-day you do not think. At 
the least, the other saying is true, that in the end comes 
judgment, and that there shall the sin and the atonement 
strive together ; therefore for judgment prepare yourself. 
And now depart, for I must talk with the king as to this 
matter of the onslaught of Hafela." 

'* Then, that will be the signal for my death, for what king 


can forgive one who has plotted such treachery against him ? '' 
said Hokosa. 

*' Fear not," answered Owen, ** I will soften his heart. 
Go you into the church and pray, for there you shall be less 
tempted ; but before you go, swear to me that you will work 
no evil on yourself." 

** I swear it. Messenger, since now I desire to live, if only 
for awhile, seeing that death shuts every door." 

Then he went to the church and waited there. An hour 
later he was summoned, and found the king seated with 

** Man," said Nodwengo, " I am told by the Messenger 
here that you have knowledge of a plot which my brother the 
Prince Hafela has made to fall treacherously upon me and 
put me and my people to the spear. How you come to be 
acquainted with that plot, and what part you have played in 
it, I will not now inquire, for so much have I promised to 
the Messenger. Yet I warn you it will be well that you 
should tell me all you know, and that should you lie to me 
or attempt to deceive me, then you shall surely die." 

*' King, hear all the truth," answered Hokosa in a voice 
of desperate calm. ** I have knowledge of the plot, for it 
was I who wove it ; but whether or no Hafela will carry it 
out altogether I cannot say, for as yet no word has reached 
me from him. King, this was the plan that I made." And 
he told him everything. 

** It is fortunate for you, Hokosa," said Nodwengo grimly 
when he had finished, " that I gave my word to the Mes- 
senger that no harm should come to you, seeing that you 
have repented and confessed. This is certain, that Hafela 
has listened to your evil counsels, for I gave my consent to 
his flight from this land with all his people, and already his 
women and children have crossed the mountain path in 
thousands. Well, this I swear, that their feet shall tread 
it no more, for where they are thither he shall go to join 
them, should he chance to live to do so. Hokosa, begone, 


and know that day and night you will be watched. Should 
you so much as dare to approach one of the gates of the 
Great Place, that moment you shall die." 

*' Have no fear, O King," said Hokosa humbly, ** for I 
have emptied all my heart before you. The past is the past, 
and cannot be recalled. For the future, while it pleases you 
to spare me, I am the most loyal of your servants." 

** Can a man empty a spring with a pitcher ? " asked the 
king contemptuously. " By to-morrow this heart of yours 
may be full again with the blackest treachery, O master of 
sin and lies. Many months ago I spared you at the prayer 
of the Messenger ; and now at his prayer I spare you again, 
yet in doing so I think that I am foolish." 

*' Nay, I will answer for him," broke in Owen. " Let 
him stay here with me, and set your guard without my 

*' How do I know that he will not murder you, friend ? " 
asked the king. " This man is a snake whom few can nurse 
with safety." 

** He will not murder me," said Owen smiling, ** because 
his heart is turned from evil to good ; also, there is little 
need to murder a dying man." 

** Nay, speak not so," said the king hastily; "and as for 
this man, be it as you will. Come, I must take counsel 
with my captains, for our danger is near and great." • 

So it came about that Hokosa stayed in the house of 

On the morrow the Great Place was full of the bustle of 
preparation, and by dawn of the following day an impi of 
some seventeen thousand spears had started to ambush 
Hafela and his force in a certain wooded defile through 
which he must travel on his way to the mountain pass 
where his women and children were gathered. The army 
was not large, at least in the eyes of the People of Fire who, 
before the death of Umsuka and the break up of the nation, 
counted their warriors by tens of thousands. But after those 


events the most of the regiments had deserted to Hafela, 
leaving to Nodwengo not more than two-and-twenty thousand 
spears upon which he could rely. Of these he kept less than 
a third to defend the Great Place against possible attacks, 
and all the rest he sent to fall upon Hafela far away, hoping 
there to make an end of him once and for all. This counsel 
the king took against the better judgment of many of his 
captains, and as the issue proved, it was mistaken. 

When Owen told Hokosa of it, that old general shrugged 
his shoulders. 

" The king would have done better to keep his regiments 
at home," he said, ** and fight it out with Hafela here, where 
he is well prepared. Yonder the country is very wide and 
broken, and it may well chance that the impi will miss that 
of Hafela, and then how can the king defend this place with 
a handful, should the prince burst upon him at the head of 
forty thousand men ? But who am I that I should give 
counsel for which none seek ? " 

** As God wills, so shall it befal," answered Owen wearily ; 
** but oh ! the thought of all this bloodshed breaks my heart. 
I trust that its beatings may be stilled before my eyes behold 
the evil hour. 

On the evening of that day Hokosa was baptised. The 
ceremony took place, not in the church, for Owen was too 
weak to go there, but in the largest room of his house and 
before some few witnesses chosen from the congregation. 
Even as he was being signed with the sign of the cross, a 
strange and familiar attraction caused the convert to look 
up, and behold, before him, watching all with mocking eyes, 
stood Noma his wife. At length the rite was finished, and 
the little audience melted away, all save Noma, who stood 
silent and beautiful as a statue, the light of mockery still 
gleaming in her eyes. Then she spoke, saying : — 

** I greet you, Husband. I have returned from doing your 
business afar, and if this foolishness is finished, and the 
white man can spare you, I would talk with you alone." 


** I greet you, Wife," answered Hokosa. ** Say out your 
say, for none are present save us three, and from the Mes- 
senger here I have no secrets." 

" What, Husband, none ? Do you ever talk to him of 
certain fruit that you ripened in a garden yonder ? " 

** From the Messenger I have no secrets," repeated Hokosa 
in a heavy voice. 

'* Then his heart must be full of them indeed, and it is 
little wonder that he seems sick," replied Noma gibing. 
'* Tell me, Hokosa, is it true that you have become a Chris- 
tian, or would you but fool the white man and his following ?" 

" It is true." 

At the words her graceful shape was shaken with a little 
gust of silent laughter. 

** The wizard has turned saint," she said. ** Well, then, 
what of the wizard's wife ? " 

** You were my wife before I became Christian ; if the 
Messenger permits it, you can still abide with me." 

** If the Messenger permits it ! So you have come to this, 
Hokosa, that you must ask the leave of another man as to 
whether or no you should keep your own wife ! There is no 
other thing that I could not have thought of you, but this 
I would never have believed had I not heard it from your 
lips. Say now, do you still love me, Hokosa ? " 

** You know well that I love you, now and always," he 
answered, in a voice that sounded like a groan; *'as you 
know that for love of you I have done many sins from 
which otherwise I should have turned aside." 

" Grieve not over them, Hokosa ; after all, in such a count 
as yours they will make but little show. Well, if you love 
me, I hate you, though through your witchcraft your will 
yet has the mastery of mine. I demand of you now that 
you should loose that bond, for I do not desire to become a 
Christian ; and surely, O most good and holy man, having 
one wife already, it will not please you henceforth to live in 
sin with a heathen woman." 


Now Hokosa turned to Owen : — 

" In the old days," he said, " I could have answered her ; 
but now I am fallen ; or raised up — at the least I am 
changed and cannot. O prophet of Heaven, tell me what I 
shall do." 

** Sever the bond that you have upon her and let her go," 
answered Owen. " This love of yours is unnatural, unholy 
and born of witchcraft ; have done with it, or if you cannot, 
at the least deny it, for such a woman, a woman who hates 
you, can work you no good. Moreover, since she is a second 
wife, you being a Christian, are bound to free her should she 
so desire." 

" She can work me no good, Messenger, that I know ; 
but I know also that while she struggles in the net of my 
will she can work me no evil. If I loose the net and the 
fish swims free, it may be otherwise." 

" Loose it," answered Owen, ** and leave the rest to 
Providence. Henceforth, Hokosa, do right, and take no 
thought for the morrow, for the morrow is with God, and 
what He decrees, that shall befal." 

" I hear you," said Hokosa, ** and I obey." For a while 
he rocked himself to and fro, staring at the ground, then he 
lifted his head and spoke : — 

** Woman," he said, " The knot is untied and the spell is 
broken. Begone, for I release you and I divorce you. Flesh 
of my flesh have you been, and soul of my soul, for in the 
web of sorceries are we knit together. Yet be warned and 
presume not too far, for remember that which I have laid 
down I can take up, and that should I choose to command, 
you must still obey. Farewell, you are free.'' 

Noma heard, and with a sigh of ecstasy she sprang into 
the air as a slave might do from whom the fetters have 
been struck off. 

**Ay," she cried, "I am free! I feel it in my blood, I 
who have lain in bondage, and the voice of freedom speaks 
in my heart and the breath of freedom blows in my nostrils. 

374 tHE WlZAkD. 

I am free from you, O dark and accursed man ; but herein 
lies my triumph and revenge — yon are not free from me. 
In obedience to that white fpol whom you have murdered, 
you have loosed me ; but you I will not loose and could not 
if I would. Listen now, Hokosa : you love me, do you 
not ? — next to this new creed of yours, I am most of all to 
you. Well, since you have divorced me, I will tell you, 
1 go straight to another man. Now, look your last on me; 
for you love me, do you not ? " and she slipped the mantle 
from her shoulders and except for her girdle stood before 
him naked, and smiled. 

**Well," she went on, resuming her robe, **the last words 
of those we love are always dear to us ; therefore, Hokosa, 
you who were my husband, I leave mine with you. You 
are a coward and a traitor, and your doom shall be that of a 
coward and a traitor. For my sake you betrayed Umsuka, 
your king and benefactor ; for your own sake you betrayed 
Nodvvengo, who spared you ; and now, for the sake of your 
miserable soul, you have betrayed Hafela to Nodwengo. 
Nay, I know the tale, do not answer me, but the end of 
it — ah ! that is yet to learn. Lie there, snake, and lick the 
hand that you have bitten, but I, the bird whom you have 
loosed, I fly afar — taking your heart with me!** and 
suddenly she turned and was gone. 

Presently Hokosa spoke in a thick voice : — 

" Messenger,' he said, ** this cross that you have given 
me to bear is heavy indeed." 

** Yes, Hokosa, ' answered Owen, ** for to it your sins are 



TlliiV.N i<^' --'- 

X- '.' '( '-^ 




Once she was outside of Owen's house, Noma did not tarry. 
First she returned to Hokosa's kraal, where she had already 
learnt from his head wife, Zinti, and others the news of his 
betrayal of the plot of Hafela, of his conversion to the faith 
of the Christians, and of the march of the inipi to ambush 
the prince. Here she took a little spear, and rolling up in 
a skin blanket as much dried meat as she could carry, she 
slipped unnoticed from the kraal. Her object was to escape 
from the Great Place, but this she did not try to do by any 
of the gates, knowing them to be guarded. Some months 
ago, before she started on her embassy, she had noted a 
weak spot in the fence, where dogs had torn a hole through 
which they passed out to hunt at night. To this spot she 
made her way under cover of the darkness — for though she 
still greatly feared to he alone at night, her pressing need 
conquered her fears— and found that the hole was yet there, 
for a tall weed growing in its mouth had caused it to be 
overlooked by those whose duty it was to mend the fence. 
With her assegai she widened it a little, then drew her lithe 
shape through it, and lying hidden till the guard had passed, 
climbed the two stone walls beyond. Once she was free of 
the town, she set her course by the stars and started forward 
at a steady run. 

" If rny strength holds I shall yet be in time to warn him," 
she muttered to herself. " Ah I friend Hokosa, this new 
madness of yours has blunted your wits that once were 


sharp enough. You have set me free, and now you shall 
learn how I can use my freedom. Not for nothing have 
I been your pupil, Hokosa the fox." 

Before the dawn broke Noma was thirty miles from the 
Great Place, and before the next dawn she was a hundred. 
At sunset on that second day she stood among mountains. 
To her right stretched a great defile, a rugged place of rocks 
and bush, wherein she knew that the regiments of the king 
were hid in ambush. Perchance she was too late, perchance 
the impi of Hafela had already passed to its doom in yonder 
gorge. Swiftly she ran forward on to the trail which led to 
the gorge, to find that it had been trodden by many feet and 
recently. Moving to and fro she searched the spoor with 
her eyes, then rose with a sigh of joy. It was old, and 
marked the passage of the great company of women and 
children and their thousands of cattle which, in execution of 
the plot, had travelled this path some days before. Either 
the impi had not yet arrived, or it had gone by some other 
road. Weary as she was, Noma followed the old spoor 
backwards. A mile or more away it crossed the crest of a 
hog-backed mountain, from whose summit she searched the 
plain beyond, and not in vain, for there far beneath her 
twinkled the watch-fires of the army of Hafela. 

Three hours later a woman, footsore and utterly exhausted, 
staggered into the camp, and waving aside the spears that 
were lifted to stab her, demanded to be led to the prince. 
Presently she was there. 

" Who is this woman ? " asked the great warrior ; for, 
haggard as she was with travel, exhaustion, and the terror 
of her haunted loneliness, he did not know her in the 
uncertain firelight. 

" Hafela," she said, " I am Noma who was the wife of 
Hokosa, and for whole nights and days I have journeyed as 
no woman ever journeyed before, to tell you of the treachery 
of Hokosa and to save you from ycur doom." 

«* What treachery and what doom ? " asked the prince. 


"Before I answer you that question, Hafela, you must 
pay me the price of my news." 

" Let me hear the price, Noma." 

" It is this, Prince : First, the head of Hokosa, who has 
divorced me, when you have caught him." 

** That I promise readily. What more ? " 

" Secondly, the place of your chief wife to-day ; and a 
week hence, when I shall have made you king, the name 
and state of Queen of the People of Fire with all that hangs 

"You are ambitious, woman, and know well how to drive 
a bargain. Well, if you can ask, I can give, for I have ever 
loved you, and your mind is great as your body is beautiful. 
If through your help I should become King of the People of 
Fire, you shall be their Queen, I swear it by the spirits of 
my fathers and by my own head. And now — your tidings." 

"These are they, Hafela. Hokosa has turned Christian 
and betrayed the plot to Nodwengo; and the great gorge 
yonder but three hours march away is ambushed. To- 
morrow you and your people would have been cut off there 
had I not run so fast and far to warn you, after which the 
impis of Nodwengo were commanded to follow your women 
and cattle over the mountain pass and capture them." 

** This is news indeed," said the prince. " Say now, how 
many regiments are hidden in the gorge ? " 

" Eight." 

" Well, I have fourteen ; so, being warned, there is little 
to fear. I will catch these rats in their own hole." 

" I have a better plan," said Noma ; ** it is this : leave six 
regiments posted upon the brow of yonder hill and let them 
stay there. Then when the generals of Nodwengo see that 
they do not enter the gorge, they will believe that the 
ambush is discovered, and, after waiting for one day or 
perhaps two, will move out to give battle, thinking that 
before them is all your strength. But command your 
regiments to run and not to fight, drawing the army of 


378 tHE WtZARD. 

Nodwengo after them. Meanwhile, yes, this very night, 
you yourself with all the men that are left to you must 
march upon the Great Place, which, though it be strong, 
can be stormed, for it is defended by less than five thousand 
soldiers. There, having taken it, you shall slay Nodwengo, 
proclaiming yourself king, and afterwards, by the help of 
the impi that you leave here which will march onward to 
your succour, you can deal with yonder army." 

" A great scheme truly," said Hafela in admiration ; " but 
how do I know whether all this tale is true, or whether you 
do but set a snare for me ? " 

" Bid scouts go out and creep into yonder gully," answered 
Noma, "and you will see whether or no I have spoken 
falsely. For the rest, I am in your hands, and if I lie you 
can take my life in payment." 

'* If I march upon the Great Place, it must be at midnight 
when none see me go," said Hafela, **and what will you 
do then, Noma, who are too weary to travel again so soon ? *' 

" I will be borne in a litter till my strength comes back to 
me," she answered. ** And now give me to eat and let me 
rest while I may." 

Five hours later, Hafela with the most of his army, a 
force of something over twenty thousand men, was journey- 
ing swiftly but by a circuitous route towards the Great Place 
of the king. On the crest of the hill facing the gorge, as 
Noma had suggested, he left six regiments with instructions 
to fly before Nodwengo*s generals, and when they had led 
them far enough, to follow him as swiftly as they were able. 
These orders, or rather the first part of them, they carried 
out, for as it chanced after two days' flight, the king's 
soldiers got behind them by a night march, and falling on 
them at dawn, killed half of them and dispersed the rest. 
Then it was that Nodwengo's generals learned for the first 
time that they were following one wing of Hafela's army 
only, while the main body was striking at the heart of the 


kingdom, and turned their faces homewards in fear and 

On the morning after the flight of Noma, Owen passed 
into the last stage of his sickness, and it became evident, 
both to himself and to those who watched him, that at the 
most he could not live for more than a few days. For his 
part, he accepted his doom joyfully, spending the time 
which was left to him in writing letters that were to be 
forwarded to England whenever an opportunity should arise. 
Also he set down on paper a statement of the principal 
events of his strange mission, and other information for the 
guidance of his white successors, who by now should be 
drawing near to the land of the Amasuka. In the intervals 
of these last labours, from time to time he summoned the 
king and the wisest and trustiest of those whom he had 
baptised to his bedside, teaching them what they should do 
when he was gone, and exhorting them to cling to the Faith. 

On the afternoon of the fourth day from that of the baptism 
of Hokosa he fell into a quiet sleep, from which he did not 
wake till sundown. 

** Am I still here ? " he asked wondering, of John and 
Hokosa who watched at his bedside. ** From my dreams 
I thought that it was otherwise. John, send a messenger 
to the king and ask of him to assemble the people, all who 
care to come, in the open place before my house. I am 
about to die, and first I would speak with them." 

John went weeping upon his errand, leaving Owen and 
Hokosa alone. 

**Tell me now what shall I do?" said Hokosa in a voice 
of despair, ** seeing that it is I and no other who have 
brought this death upon you." 

** Fret not, my brother," answered Owen, **for this and 
other things you did in the days of your blindness, and it 
was permitted that you should do them to an end. Kneel 
down now, that I may absolve you from your sins before 



I pass away ; for I tell you, Hokosa, I believe that ere many 
days are over you must walk on the same path which I 
travel to-night." 

** Is it so ? " Hokosa answered. ** Well, I am glad, for I 
have no longer any lust of life." 

Then he knelt down and received the absolution. 

Now John returned and Nodwengo with him, who told 
him that the people were gathering in hundreds according 
to his wish. 

**Then clothe me in my robes and let us go forth,'* he 
said, ** for I would speak my last words in the ears of men." 

So they put the surplice and hood upon his wasted form 
and went out, John preceding him holding on high the 
ivory crucifix, while the king and Hokosa supported him, 
one on either side. 

Without his gate stood a low wooden platform, whence at 
times Owen had been accustomed to address any congrega- 
tion larger than the church would contain. On this platform 
he took his seat. The moon was bright above him, and by 
it he could see that already his audience numbered some 
thousands of men, women and children. The news had 
spread that the wonderful white man. Messenger, wished to 
take his farewell of the nation, though even now many did 
not understand that he was dying, but imagined that he was 
about to leave the country, or, for aught they knew, to vanish 
from their sight into Heaven. For a moment Owen looked 
at the sea of dusky faces, then in the midst of an intense 
stillness, he spoke in a voice low indeed but clear and 
steady : — 

** My children," he said, ** hear my last words to you. 
More than three years ago, in a far, far land and upon such 
a night as this, a Voice spoke to me from above commanding 
me to seek you out, to turn you from your idolatry and to 
lighten your darkness. I listened to the Voice, and hither 
I journeyed across sea and land, though how this thing 
might be done I could not guess. But to Him Who sent 


me all things are possible, and while yet I lingered upon 
the threshold of your country, in a dream were revealed to 
me events that were to come. So I appeared before you 
boldly, and knowing that he had been poisoned and that I 
could cure him, I drew back your king from the mouth of 
death, and you said to yourselves : * Behold a wizard indeed I 
Let us hear him/ Then I gave battle to your sorcerers yonder 
upon the plain, and from the foot of the Cross I teach, the 
lightnings were rolled back upon them and they were not. 
Look now, their chief stands at my side, among my disciples 
one of the foremost and most faithful. Afterwards troubles 
arose: your king died a Christian, and many of the people 
fell away ; but still a remnant remained, and he who became 
king was converted to the truth. Now I have sown the 
seed, and the corn is ripe before my eyes, but it is not per- 
mitted that I should reap the harvest. My work is ended, 
my task is done, and I, the Messenger, return to make 
report to Him Who sent the message. 

** Hear me yet a little while, for soon shall my voice be 
silent. * I come not to bring peace, but a sword,' — so said 
the Master Whom I preach, and so say I, the most unworthy 
of His servants. Salvation cannot be bought at a little 
price ; it must be paid for by the blood and griefs of men, 
and in blood and griefs must you pay, O my children. 
Through much tribulation must you also enter the kingdom 
of God. Even now the heathen is at your gates, and many 
of you shall perish on his spears, but I tell you that he shall 
not conquer. Be faithful, cling to the Cross, and do not 
dare to doubt your Lord, for He will protect you and your 
children after you, and He will be your Captain and you 
shall be His people. Cleave to your king, for he is good ; 
and in the day of trial listen to the counsel of this Hokosa 
who once was the first of evil-doers, for with him goes my 
spirit, and he is my son in the spirit. 

" My children, fare you well ! Forget me not, for I have 
loved you ; or if you will, forget me, but remember my 



teaching and hearken to those who shall tread upon the 
path I made. The peace of God be with you, the blessing 
of God be upon you, and the salvation of God await you, as 
it awaits me to-night ! Friends, lead me hence to die." 

They turned to him, but before their hands touched him 
Thomas Owen fell forward upon the breast of Hokosa and 
lay there a while. Then suddenly, for the last time, he 
lifted himself and cried aloud : — 

'' I have fought a good fight ! I have finished my course ! 
I have kept the faith ! Henceforth there is laid up for me 
a crown of righteousness . . . and not to me only, but to 
all those who love His appearing." 

Then his head fell back, his dark eyes closed, and the 
Messenger was dead. 

Hokosa, the man who had murdered him, having lifted 
him up to show him to the people, amidst a sound of mighty 
weeping, took the body in his arms and bore it thence to 
make it ready for burial. 

The paiaing of Owen. 

THE yr'' YORK 




K I 




On the morrow at sundown all that remained of Thomas 
Owen was laid to rest before the altar of the little church, 
Nodwengo the king and Hokosa lowering him into the 
grave, while John, his first disciple, read over him the 
burial service of the Christians, which it had been one of 
the dead man's last labours to translate into the language of 
the Amasuka. 

Before the ceremony was finished, a soldier, carrying a 
spear in his hand, pushed his way through the dense and 
weeping crowd, and having saluted, whispered something 
into the ear of the king. Nodwengo started, and, with a 
last look of farewell at the face of his friend, left the chapel, 
accompanied by some of his generals who were present, 
muttering to Hokosa that he was to follow when all was 
done. Accordingly, some few minutes later, he went and 
was admitted into the Council Hut, where captains and 
messengers were to be seen arriving and departing con- 

** Hokosa," said the king, ** you have dealt treacherously 
with me in the past, but I believe now that your heart is 
true ; at the least I follow the commands of our dead master 
and trust you. Listen : the outposts have sighted an impi 
of many regiments advancing towards the Great Place, 
though whether or no it be my own impi returning victorious 
from the war with my brother, I cannot say. There is this 
against it, however, that a messenger has but just arrived 
reporting that the generals have perceived the host of Hafela 


encamped upon a ridge over against the gorge where they 
awaited him. If that be so, they can. scarcely have given 
him battle, for the messenger is swift of foot and has travelled 
night and day. Yet how can this be the impi of Hafela, 
who, say the generals, is encamped upon the ridge ? " 

•* He may have left the ridge. King, having been warned 
of the ambush." ^ 

" It cannot be, for when the runner started his fires burned 
there and his soldiers were gathered round them." 

" Then perhaps his captains sit upon the ridge with 
some portion of his strength to deceive those who await 
him in the gorge ; while, knowing that here men are few> 
he himself swoops down on you with the main body of his 

**At least we shall learn presently," answered the king; 
** but if it be as I fear and we are outwitted, what is there 
that we can do against so many ? " 

Now one of the captains proposed that they should stay 
where they were and hold the place. 

"It is too large," answered the king, ** they will burst the 
fences and break our line." 

Another suggested that they should fly and, avoiding the 
regiments of Hafela in the darkness of the night, should 
travel swiftly in search of the main army that had been sent 
to lie in ambush. 

** What," said Nodwengo, ** leaving the aged and the 
women and children to perish, for how can we take such a 
multitude ? No, I will have none of this plan." 

Then Hokosa spoke. '* King," he said, ** listen to my 
counsel : Command now that all the women and the old 
men, taking with them such cattle and food as are in the 
town, depart at once into the Valley of Death and collect in 
the open space that lies beyond the Tree of Doom, near the 
spring of water that is there. The valley is narrow and the 
cliffs are steep, and it may chance that by the help of Heaven 
we shall be able to hold it till the army returns to relieve us, 


to seek which messengers must be sent at once with these 

**Th^ plan is good," said the king, though none had 
thought of it ; *' but so we shall lose the town." 

" Towns can be rebuilt," answered Hokosa, ** but who 
may restore the lives of men ? '* 

As the words left his lips, a runner burst into the council 
crying : ** King, the wipi is that of Hafela, and the prince 
leads it in person. Already his outposts rest upon the Plain 
of Fire." 

Then Nodwengo rose and issued his orders, commanding 
that all the ineffective population of the town, together with 
such food and cattle as could be gathered, should retreat at 
once into the Valley of Death. By this time the four or five 
thousand soldiers who were left in the Great Place had been 
paraded on the open ground in front of the king's house, 
where they stood, still and silent, in the moonlight. Nod- 
wengo and the captains went out to them, and as they saw 
him come they lifted their spears like one man, giving him the 
royal salute of ** King ! " He held up his hand and addressed 

** Soldiers,'* he said, ** we have been outwitted. My impi 
is afar, and that of Hafela is at our gates. Yonder in the 
valley, though we be few, we can defend ourselves till succour 
reaches us, which already messengers have gone out to 
seek. But first we must give time for the women and 
children, the sick and the aged, to withdraw with food and 
cattle; and this we can do in one way only, by keeping 
Hafela at bay till they have passed the archway, all of them. 
Now, soldiers, for the sake of your own lives, of your honour 
and of those you love, swear to me, in the holy Name which 
we have been taught to worship, that you will fight out this 
great fight without fear or faltering." 

" We swear it in the holy Name, and by your head, King," 
roared the regiments. 

** Then victory is already ours," answered Nodwengo. 


** Follow me, Children of Fire ! " and shaking his great 
spear, he led the way towards that portion of the outer fence 
upon which Hafela was advancing. 

By now the town behind them was a scene of almost 
indescribable tumult and confusion, for the companies de- 
tailed to the task were clearing the numberless huts of their 
occupants, and collecting women, children and oxen in 
thousands, preparatory to driving them into the defile. 
Panic had seized many of these poor creatures, who, in 
imagination, already saw themselves impaled upon the cruel 
spears of Hafela's troops, and indeed in not a few instances 
believed those who were urging them forward to be the 
enemy. Women shrieked and wrung their hands, children 
wailed piteously, oxen lowed, and the infirm and aged vented 
their grief in groans and cries to Heaven, or their ancient god, 
for mercy. In truth, so difficult was the task of marshalling 
this motley array at night, numbering as it did ten or twelve 
thousand souls, that a full hour went by before the mob even 
began to move, slowly and uncertainly, towards the place of 
refuge, whereof the opening was so narrow that but few of 
them could pass it at a time. 

Meanwhile Hafela was developing the attack. Forming 
his great army into the shape of a wedge he raised his battle- 
cry and rushed down on the first line of fortifications, which 
he stormed without difficulty, for they were defended by a 
few skirmishers only. Next he attacked the second line, and 
carried it after heavy fighting, then hurled himself upon the 
weakest point of the main fence of the vast kraal. Here it was 
that the fray began in earnest, for here Nodwengo was .wait- 
ing for him. Thrice the thousands rolled on in face of a 
storm of spears, and thrice they fell back from the wide fence 
of thorns and the wall of stone behind it. By now the battle 
had raged for about an hour and a half, and it was reported 
to the king that the first of the women and children had 
passed the archway into the valley, and that nearly all of 
them were clear of the eastern gate of the town. 


*' Then it is time that we follow them," said the king, " for 
if we wait here until the warriors of Hafela are among us, 
our retreat will become a rout and soon there will be none 
left to follow. Let one company," and he named it, ** hold 
the fence for a while to give us time to withdraw, taking the 
wounded with us." 

" We hear you, king," said one of that company, *' but our 
captain is killed." 

" Who among you will take over the command of these 
men and hold the breach ? " asked Nodwengo of the group 
of officers about him. 

"I, King," answered old Hokosa, lifting his spear, **for 
I care not whether I live or die." 

** Go to, boaster ! " cried another. ** Who among us cares 
whether he lives or dies when the king commands ? " 

** That we shall know to-morrow," said Hokosa quietly, 
and the soldiers laughed at the retort. 

** So be it," said the king, and while silently and swiftly 
he led off the regiments, keeping in the shadow of the huts, 
Hokosa and his hundred men posted themselves behind the 
weakened fence and wall. Now, for the fourth time the 
attacking regiment came forward grimly, on this occasion 
led by the prince himself. As they drew near, Hokosa leapt 
upon the wall, and standing there in the bright moonlight 
where all could see him, he called to them to halt. Instinct- 
ively they obeyed him. 

" Is it Hafela whom I see yonder ? " he asked. 

"Ah! it is I," answered the prince. ** What would you 
with me, wizard and traitor ? " 

** This only, Hafela : I would ask you what you seek 
here ? " 

** That which you promised me, Hokosa, the crown of my 
father and certain other things." 

** Then get you back, Hafela, for you shall never win them. 
Have I prophesied falsely to you at any time ? Not so — 
neither do I prophesy falsely now. Get you back whence 


you came, and your wolves with you, else shall you bide here 
for ever." 

** Do you dare to call down evil on me, Wizard ? " shouted 
the prince furiously. " Your wife is mine, and now I take 
your life also," and with all his strength he hurled at him the 
great spear he held. 

It hissed past Hokosa's head, touching his ear, but he 
never flinched from the steel. 

" A poor cast, Prince," he said laughing ; " but so it must 
have been, for I am guarded by that which 3'ou cannot see. 
My wife you have, and she shall be your ruin ; my life 
you may take, but ere it leaves me, Hafela, I shall see you 
dead and your army scattered. The Messenger is passed 
away, but his power has fallen upon me and I speak the 
truth to you, O Prince and warriors, who are — already 

Now a shriek of dismay and fury rose from the hundreds 
who heard this prophesy of ill, for of Hokosa and his magic 
thev were terribly afraid. 

" Kill him ! Kill the wizard ! " they shouted, and a rain of 
spears rushed towards him on the wall. 

They rushed towards him, they passed above, below, 
around ; but, of them all, not one touched him. 

** Did I not tell you that I was guarded by That which 
you cannot see ? " Hokosa asked contemptuously. Then 
slowly he descended from the wall amidst a great silence. 

** When men are scarce the tongue must play a part," he 
explained to his companions, who stared at him wondering. 
" By now the king and those with him should have reached 
the eastern gate ; whereas, had we fought at once, Hafiela 
would be hard upon his heels, for we are few, and who can 
hold a buffalo with a rope of grass ? Yet I think that 
I spoke truth when I told him that the garment of the 
Messenger has fallen upon my shoulders, and that death 
awaits him and his companies, as it awaits me also and 
many of us. Now, friends, be ready, for the bull charges 







Hokou on the wall. 

Av^Ton. iv:''o\. AND 


and soon we must feel his horns. This at least is left to 
you, to die gloriously." 

While he was still speaking the first files of the regiment 
rushed upon the fence, tearing aside the thorns with their 
hands till a passage was made through them. Then 
they sprang upon the wall, there to be met by the spears of 
Hokosa and his men thrusting upward from beneath its 
shelter. Time after time they sprang, and time after time 
they fell back dead or wounded, till at last, dashing forward 
in one dense column, they poured over the stones as the 
rising tide pours over the rocks on the sea-shore, driving the 
defenders before them by the sheer weight of numbers. 

** This game is played ! " cried Hokosa. ** Fly now to the 
eastern gate, for here we can do nothing more." 

So they fled, those who survived of them, and after them 
came the thousands of the foe, sacking and firing the deserted 
town as they advanced. 

Hokosa and his men, or rather the half of them, reached 
the gate and passed it in safety, barring it after them, and 
thereby delaying the attackers till they could burst their way 
through. Now hundreds of huts were afire, and the flames 
spread swiftly, lighting up the country far and wide. In the 
glare of them, Hokosa could see that already a full two-thirds 
of the crowd of fugitives had passed the narrow arch ; while 
Nodwengo and the soldiers were drawn up in companies 
upon the steep and rocky slope that led to it, protecting their 

He advanced to the king and reported himself. 

** So you have lived through it," said Nodwengo. 

" I shall die when mv hour comes, and not before," Hokosa 
answered. *' We did well yonder, and yet the most of us are 
alive to tell the tale, for I knew when and how to go. Be 
ready. King, for the foe press us close, and that mob behind 
lis crawls onward like a snail." 

As he spoke the pursuers broke through the fence and gate 

of the burning town, and once more the fight began. They 




had the advantage of numbers ; but Nodwengo and his troops 
stood in a wide road upon higher ground protected on either 
side by walls, and were, moreover, rested, not breathless and 
weary with travel like the men of Hafela. Slowly, fighting, 
every inch of the way, Nodwengo was pushed back, and 
slowly the long ant-like line of women and sick and cattle 
crept through the opening in the rock, till at length all of 
them were gone. 

** It is time," said Nodwengo, glancing behind him, ** for 
our arms grow weary." 

Then he gave orders, and company by company the 
defending force followed on the path of the fugitives, till at 
length amidst a roar of rage and disappointment, the last of 
them vanished through the arch, Hokosa among them, and 
the place was blocked with stones, above which shone a 
hedge of spears. 




Thus ended the first night's battle, since for this time the 
enemy had fought enough. Nodwengo and his men had 
also had enough, for out of the five thouvsand of them some 
eleven hundred were killed or wounded. Yet they might not 
rest, for all that night, assisted by the women, they laboured, 
building stone walls across the narrowest parts of the valley. 
Also the cattle, women and children were moved along the 
gorge, which in shape may be compared to a bottle with 
two necks, one at either end, and encamped in the open- 
ing of the second neck, where was the spring of water. 
This spot was chosen both because here alone water could 
be obtained, without which they could not hold out more 
than a single day, and because the koppie whereon grew 
the strange-looking euphorbia known as the Tree of Doom 
afforded a natural rampart against attack. 

Shortly after dawn, while the soldiers were resting and 
eating of such food as could be procured — for the most part 
strips of raw or half-cooked meat cut from hastily killed 
cattle — the onslaught was renewed with vigour, Hafela 
directing his efforts to the forcing of the natural archway. 
But, strive as he would, this he could not do, for it was 
choked with stones and thorns and guarded by brave men. 

** You do but waste your labour, Hafela," said Noma, 
who stood by him watching the assault. 

*' What then is to be done ?" he asked, "for unless we 
come at them we cannot kill them. It was clever of them 
to take refuge in this hole. I thought surely that they 


would fight it out yonder, beneath the fences of the Great 

** Ah ! " she answered, ** you forgot that they had Hokosa 
on their side. Did you then think to catch him sleeping ? 
This retreat was Hokosa's counsel. I learned it from the 
lips of that wounded captain before they killed him. Now, 
it seems that there are but two paths to follow, and you can 
choose between them. The one is to send a regiment a day 
and a halfs journey across the cliff top to guard the further 
mouth of the valley and to wait till these jackals starve in 
their hole, for certainly they can never come out." 

** It has started six hours since," said Hafela, ** and though 
the precipices are steep, having the moon to travel by, it 
should reach the river mouth of the valley before dawn to- 
morrow, cutting Nodwengo off from the plains, if indeed he 
should dare to venture out upon them, which, with so small 
a force, he will not do. Yet this first plan of yours must 
fail, Noma, seeing that before they starve within, the generals 
of Nodwengo will be back upon us from the mountains, 
catching us between the hammer and the anvil, and I know 
not how that fight would go." 

** Yet, soon or late, it must be fought." 

'* Nay," he answered, ** for my hope is that should the 
impi return to find Nodwengo dead, they will surrender and 
acknowledge me as king, who am the first of the blood royal. 
But what is your second plan ? " 

By way of answer, she pointed to the cliff above them. 
On the right-hand side, facing the archway, was a flat ledge 
overhanging the valley, at a height of about a hundred 

" If you can come yonder," she said, ** it will be easy to 
storm this gate, for there lie rocks in plenty, and men cannot 
fight when stones are dropping on their heads." 

" But how can we come to that home of vultures, where 
never man has set a foot ? Look, the cliff above is sheer; 
no rock-rabbit could stand upon it." 


With her eye Noma measured the distance from the 
brink of the precipice to the broad ledge commanding the 

" Sixty paces, not more," she said. ** Well, yonder are 
oxen in plenty, and out of their hides ropes can be made, 
and out of ropes a ladder, down which men may pass ; ten, 
or even five, would be enough." 

"Well thought of^Noma," said Hafela. ** Hokosa told 
us last night that to him had passed the wisdom of the 
Messenger; but if this be so, I think that to you has passed 
the guile of Hokosa." 

*' It seems to me that some of it abides with him," 
answered Noma laughing. 

Then the prince gave orders, and, with many workers of 
hides toiling at it, within two hours the ladder was ready, 
its staves, set twenty inches apart, being formed of knob- 
kerries, or the broken shafts of stabbing spears. Now they 
lowered it from the top of the precipice so that its end rested 
upon the ledge, and down it came several men, who swung 
upon its giddy length like spiders on a web. Reaching this 
great shelf in safety and advancing to the edge of it, these 
men started a boulder, which, although as it chanced it hurt 
no one, fell in the midst of a group of the defenders and 
bounded away through them. 

** Now we must be going," said Hokosa, looking up, *' for 
no man can fight against rocks, and our spears cannot reach 
those birds. Had the army been taught the use of the bow, 
as I counselled in the past days, we might still have held 
the archway ; but they called it a woman's weapon, and 
would have none of it." 

As he spoke another stone fell, crushing the life out of a 
man who stood next to him. Then they retreated to the 
first wall, which had been piled up during the night, where 
it was not possible to roll rocks upon them from the cliffs 
above. This wall, and others reared at intervals behind it, 
they set to work to strengthen as much as they could, mak- 


ing the most of the time that was left to them before the 
enemy could clear the way and march on to attack. 

Presently Hafela's men were through and sweeping down 
upon them with a roar, thinking to carry the wall at a single 
rush. But in this they failed ; indeed, it was only after an 
hour's hard fighting and by the expedient of continually 
attacking the work with fresh companies that at length they 
stormed the wall. 

When Hokosa saw that he could no longer hold the place, 
but before the foe was upon him, he drew off his soldiers to 
the second wall, a quarter of a mile or more away, and here 
the fight began again. And so it went on for hour after 
hour, as one by one the fortifications were carried by the 
weight of numbers, for the attackers fought desperately 
under the eye of their prince, caring nothing for the terrible 
loss they suft'ered in men. Twice the force of the defenders 
was changed by order of Nodwengo, fresh men being sent 
from the companies held in reserve to take the places of those 
who had borne the brunt of the battle. This indeed it was 
necessary to do, seeing that it was impossible to carry water 
to so many, and in that burning valley men could not fight 
for long athirst. Only Hokosa stayed on, for they brought 
him drink in a gourd, and wherever the fray was fiercest 
there he was always ; nor although spears were rained upon 
him by hundreds, was he touched by one of them. 

At length as the night fell the king's men were driven 
from their last scherm in the western half of the valley, 
across the open space back upon the koppie where stood the 
Tree of Doom. Here they stayed a while till, overmatched 
and outworn, they were pushed from its rocks across the 
narrow stretch of broken ground into the shelter of the great 
stone scherm or wall that ran from side to side of the further 
neck of the valley, whereon thousands of women and such 
men as could be spared had been working incessantly during 
the past night and day. 

It was as he retreated among the last upon this wall that 



ASTOH. LEyox. Avn 

R L 

llafcla The prince, and ai 

side stood Noma. 


Hokosa caught sight of Noma for the first time since they 
parted in the house of the Messenger. In the forefront of 
his troops, directing the attack, was Hafela the prince, and 
at his side stood Noma, carrying in her hand a little shield 
and a spear. At this moment also she saw him and called 
aloud to him : — 

" You have fought well, Wizard, but to-morrow all your 
magic shall avail you nothing, for it will be your last day 
upon this earth." 

** Ay, Noma/* he answered, "and yours also." 

Then of a sudden a company of the king's men rushed 
from the shelter of the wall upon the attackers driving them 
back to the koppie and killing several, so that in the con- 
fusion and gathering darkness Hokosa lost sight of her, 
though a man at his side declared that he saw her fall 
beneath the thrust of an assegai. Thus ended the second 

Now when the watch had been set the king and his 
captains took counsel together, for their hearts were heavy, 

** Listen," said Nodwengo : '* out of five thousand soldiers 
a thousand have been killed and a thousand lie among us 
wounded. Hark to the groaning of them ! Also we have 
with us women and children and sick to the number of 
twelve thousand, and between us and those who would 
butcher them every one there stands but a single wall. Nor 
is this the worst of it : the spring cannot supply the wants 
of so great a multitude in this hot place, and it is feared that 
presently the water will be done. What way shall we turn ? 
If we surrender to Hafela, perhaps he will spare the lives of 
the women and children ; but whatever he may promise, the 
most of us he will surely slay. If we fight and are defeated, 
then once his regiments are among us, all will be slain ac- 
cording to the ancient custom of our people. I have bethought 
me that we might retreat through the valley, but the river 
beyond is in flood ; also it is certain that before this multi- 
tude could reach it, the prince will have sent a force to cut 


us off while he himself harasses our rear. Now let him who 
has counsel speak." 

" King, I have counsel," said Hokosa. " What were the 
words that the Messenger spoke to us before he died ? Did 
he not say : * Even now the heathen is at your gates, and 
many of you shall perish on his spears; but I tell you that 
he shall not conquer * ? Did he not say : * Be faithful, cling 
to the Cross, and do not dare to doubt your Lord, for He 
will protect you, and your children after you, and He will 
be your Captain and you shall be His people * ? Did he not 
bid you also to listen to my counsel ? Then listen to it, for 
it is his : Your case seems desperate, but have no fear, and 
take no thought for the morrow, for all shall yet be well. 
Let us now pray to Him that the Messenger has revealed 
to us, and Whom now he implores on our behalf in that 
place where he is to guide us and to save us, for then surely 
He will hearken to our prayer." 

** So be it," said Nodwengo, and going out he stood upon 
a pillar of stone in the moonlight and offered up his supplica- 
tion in the hearing of the multitude. 

Meanwhile, those in the camp of Hafela were also taking 
counsel. They had fought bravely indeed, and carried the 
schanses ; but at great cost, since for every man that Nod- 
wengo had lost, three of theirs had* fallen. Moreover, they 
were in evil case with weariness and the want of water, as 
each drop they drank must be carried to them from the 
Great Place in bags made of raw hide, which caused it to 
stink, for they had but few gourds with them. 

" Now it is strange," said Hafela, '* that these men should 
fight so bravely, seeing that they are but a handful. There 
can be scarce three thousand of them left, and yet I doubt 
not that before we carry those last walls of theirs as many 
of us or more will be down. Ay ! and after they are done 
with, we must meet their great impi when it returns, and 
of what will befall us then I scarcely like to think.'' 

** Ill-fortune will befall you while Hokosa lives," broke in 


Noma. *' Had it not been for him, this trouble would have 
been done with by now ; but he is a wizard, and by his 
wizardries he defeats us and puts heart into Nodwengo and 
the warriors. You, yourself, have seen him this day defying 
us, not once but many times, for upon his flesh steel has no 
power. Ay ! and this is but the beginning of evil, for I am 
sure that he leads you into some deep trap where you shall 
perish everlastingly. Did he not himself declare that the 
power of that dead white worker of miracles had fallen upon 
him, and who can fight against magic ? " 

** Who, indeed ? *' said Hafela humbly ; for like all savages 
he was very superstitious, and, moreover, a sincere believer 
in Hokosa's supernatural capacities. *' This wizard is too 
strong for us ; he is invulnerable, and as I know well he 
can read the secret thoughts of men and can suck wisdom 
from the dead, while to his eyes the darkness is no blind." 

** Nay, Hafela," answered Noma, ** there is one crack in 
his shield. Hear me : if we can but catch him and hold 
him fast we shall have no need to fear him more, and I think 
that I know how to bait the trap." 

** How will you bait it ? " asked Hafela. 

** Thus. Midway between the koppie and the wall behind 
which lie the men of the king stands a flat rock, and all 
about that rock are stretched the bodies of dead soldiers. 
Now, this is my plan : that when next one of those dark 
storm-clouds passes over the face of the moon six of the 
strongest of our warriors should creep upon their bellies into 
the shadow of that rock, and there cast themselves down 
this way and that, as though they were also numbered with 
the slain. This done, you shall despatch a herald to call in 
the ears of the king that you desire to treat with him of 
peace. Then he will answer that if this be so you can come 
beneath the walls of his camp, and your herald shall refuse, 
saying that you fear treachery. But he must add that if 
Nodwengo will bid Hokosa to advance alone to that flat 
rock, you will bid me. Noma, whom none can fear, to do 


likewise, and that there we can talk in sight of both armies, and 
returning thence, make report to you and to Nodwengo. After- 
wards, so soon as Hokosa has set his foot upon the rock, 
those men who seem to be dead shall spring upon him and 
drag him to our camp, where we can deal with him ; for 
once the wizard is taken, the cause of Nodwengo is lost." 

** A good pitfall," said the prince ; ** but will Hokosa walk 
into the trap ? " 

'* I think so, Hafela, for three reasons. He is altogether 
without fear ; he will desire, if may be, to make peace on 
behalf of the king ; and he has this strange weakness, that he 
still loves me, and will scarcely suffer an occasion of speak- 
ing with me to go past, although he has divorced me." 

** So be it," said the prince ; ** the game can be tried, and 
if it fails, why we lose nothing, whereas if it succeeds we 
gain Hokosa, which is much ; for with you I think that our 
arms will never prosper while that accursed wizard sits 
yonder weaving his spells against us, and bringing our men 
to death by hundreds and by thousands." 

Then he gave his orders, and presently, when a cloud 
passed over the face of the moon, six chosen men crept 
forward under the lee of the flat rock and threw themselves 
down here and there amongst the dead. 

Soon the cloud passed, and the herald advanced across 
the open space blowing a horn, and waving a branch in his 
hand to show that he came upon a mission of peace. 




** What would you ? " asked Hokosa of the herald as he 
halted a short spear-cast from the wall. 

** My master, the Prince Hafela, desires to treat with your 
master, Nodwengo. Many men have fallen on either side, 
and if this war goes on, though victory must be his at last, 
many more will fall. Therefore, if any plan can be found, 
he desires to spare their lives." 

Now Hokosa spoke with the king and answered : — 

'* Then let Hafela come beneath the wall and we will talk 
with him.'* 

*' Not so," answered the herald. ** Does a buck walk into 
an open pit ? Were the prince to come here it might chance 
that your spears would talk with him. Lqt Nodwengo 
follow me to the camp yonder, where we promise him safe 

** Not so," answered Hokosa. ** 'Does a buck walk into 
an open pit ? ' Set out your message, and we will consider 

** Nay, I am but a common man without authority ; but 
I am charged to make you another offer, and if you will not 
hear it then there is an end. Let Hokosa advance alone to 
that flat rock you see vender, and there he shall be met, also 
alone, by one having power to talk with him, namely, by 
the Ladv Noma, who was once his wife. Thus thev can 
confer together midway between the camps and in full sight 
of both of them, nor, no man being near, can he find cause 
to be afraid of an unarmed girl. What say you ? " 


Hokosa turned and talked with the king. 

** I think it well that you should not go," said Nodwengo. 
** The offer seems fair, and the stone is out of reach of their 
spears ; still, behind it may lurk a scheme to kill or capture 
you, for Hafela is very cunning." 

** It may be so. King," answered Hokosa ; " still, my 
heart tells me it is wisest that I should do this thing, for our 
case is desperate, and if I do it not, that may be the cause of 
the death of all of us to-morrow. At the worst, I am but one 
man, and it matters little what may chance to me ; nor shall 
I come to any harm unless it is the will of Heaven that it 
should be so ; and be sure of this, that out of the harm will 
arise good, for where I go there the spirit of the Messenger 
goes with me. Remember that he bade you listen to my 
counsel while I remain with you, seeing that I do not speak 
of my own wisdom. Therefore let me go, and if it should 
chance that I am taken, trouble not about the matter, for 
thus it will be fated to some great end. Above all, though 
often enough I have been a traitor in the past, do not dream 
that I betray you, keeping in mind that so to do would be 
to betray my own soul, which very soon must render its 
account on high." 

" As you will, Hokosa," answered the king. ** And now 
tell those rebel dogs that on these terms only will I make 
peace with them — that they withdraw across the mountains 
by the path which their women and children have taken, 
leaving this land for ever without lifting another spear 
against us. If they will do this, notwithstanding all the 
wickedness and slaughter that they have worked, I will send 
command to my impi to let them go unharmed. If they 
will not do this, I put my trust in the God I worship and 
will fight this fray out to the end, knowing that if I and my 
people perish, they shall perish also." 

Now Nodwengo himself spoke to the herald who was 
waiting beyond the wall. 

" Go back to him you serve," he said, ** and say that 

Hi.:.;; i.i;i;i.uiY 


Hokosa will meet her who was his wife upon the flat stone 
and talk with her in the sight of both armies, bearing my 
word with him. At the sound of the blowing of a horn 
shall each of them advance unarmed and afone from either 
camp. Say to my brother also that it will indeed be ill for 
him if he attempts treachery upon Hokosa, for the man who 
causes his blood to flow will surely die, and after death shall 
be accursed for ever." 

The herald went, and presently a horn was blown. 

** Now it comes into my mind that we part for the last 
time,*' said Nodwengo in a troubled voice as he took the 
hand of Hokosa. 

** It may be so, King ; in my heart I think that it is so ; 
yet I do not altogether grieve thereat, for the burden of my 
past sins crushes me, and I am weary and seek for rest. 
Yet we do not part for the last time, because whatever 
chances, in the end I shall make my report to you yonder '* 
— and he pointed upwards. ** Reign on for long years, 
King — reign well and wisely, clinging to the Faith, for thus 
at the last shall you reap your reward. Farewell ! " 

Now again the horn blew, and in the bright moonlight 
the slight figure of Noma could be seen advancing towards 
the stone. 

Then Hokosa sprang from the wall and advanced also, till 
at the same moment they climbed upon the stone. 

** Greeting, Hokosa," said Noma, and she stretched out 
her hand to him. 

By way of answer he placed his own behind his back, 
saying : " To your business, woman ". Yet his eyes 
searched her face — the face which in his folly he still loved ; 
and thus it came about that he never saw sundry of the 
dead bodies, which lay in the shadow of the stone, begin to 
quicken into life, and inch by inch to arise, first to their 
knees and next to their feet. He never saw or heard them, 
yet, as the words left his lips, they sprang upon him from 
every side, holding him so that he could not move. 



*' Away with him ! " cried Noma with a laugh of triumph ; 
and at her command he was half-dragged and half-carried 
across the open space and thrust violently over a stone wall 
into the camp of Hafela. 

Now Nodwengo and his soldiers saw what had happened, 
and with a shout of ** Treachery ! " some hundreds of them 
leapt into the plain and began to run towards the koppie to 
rescue their envoy. 

Hokosa heard the shout, and wrenching himself round, 
beheld them. 

" Back ! " he cried in a clear, shrill .voice. *' Back ! 
children of Nodwengo, and leave me to my fate, for the foe 
waits for you by thousands behind the wall ! *' 

A soldier struck him across the mouth, bidding him be 
silent ; but his warning had come to the ears of Nodwengo, 
causing him and his warriors to halt and begin a retreat. 
It was well that they did so, for seeing that they would not 
come on, from under the shelter of the wall and of ever}' 
rock and stone soldiers jumped up by companies and charged, 
driving them back to their own schanse. But the king's 
men had the start of them, and had taken shelter behind it, 
whence they greeted them with a volley of spears, killing 
ten and wounding twice as many more. 

Now it was Hokosa's turn to laugh, and laugh he did, 
saying : — 

** My taking is well paid for already, Prince. A score of 
your best warriors is a heavy price to give for the carcase 
of one weary and ageing man. But since I am here among 
you, captured with so much pain and loss, tell me of your 
courtesy why I have been brought." 

Then the prince shook his spear at him and cursed 

" Would you learn, wizard and traitor ? " he cried. '* We 
have caught you because we know well that while you stay 
yonder your magic counsel will prevail against our might ; 
whereas, when once we hold you fast, Nodwengo will wander 


to his ruin like a blind and moonstruck man, for you were 
to him both eyes and brain." 

" I understand," said Hokosa calmly. " But, Prince, 
how if I have left my wisdom behind me ? " 

'* That may not be," answered Hafela, ** since even a 
wizard cannot throw his thoughts into the heart of another 
from afar," 

" Ah ! you think so. Prince. Well, ask Noma yonder if 
I cannot throw my thoughts into her heart from afar : 
though of late I have not chosen to do so, having put aside 
such spells. But let it pass, and tell me, having taken me, 
what is it you propose to do with me ? First, however, I 
will give you for nothing some of that wisdom which you 
grudge to Nodwengo the king. Be advised by me, Prince, 
and take the terms that he offers to you — namely, to turn 
this very night and begone from the land without harm or 
hindrance. Will you receive my gift, Hafela ? " 

** What will happen if I refuse it ? " asked the prince 

Now Hokosa looked at the dust at his feet, then he gazed 
upwards searching the heavens, and answered : — 

** Did not I tell you yesterday ? I think that this will 
happen. I think — but who can be quite sure of the future, 
Hafela ? — that you and the most of your army by this hour 
to-morrow night will be lying fast asleep about this place, 
with jackals for your bedfellows." 

The prince heard and trembled at his words, for he be- 
lieved that if he willed it, Hokosa could prophesy the 

*' Accursed dog ! " he said. '* I am minded to be guided 
by your saying ; but be sure of this, that if I follow it, you 
shall stay here to sleep with jackals, yes, this very night." 

Then Noma broke in. 

** Be not mad, Hafela ! " she -said. " Will you listen tp 
the lies that this renegade tells to work upon your fears ? 
Will you abandon victory when it lies within your grasp, 


and in place of a great king become a fugitive whom all 
men mock at, an outcast to be hunted down at leisure by 
that brother against whom you dared to rebel, but on whom 
you did not dare to shut your hand when he lay in its 
hollow ? Silence the tongue of this captive rogue for ever 
and become a man again, with the heart of a man." 

** Now," said Hokosa gently ; ** many would find it hard 
to believe that I reared this woman from childhood, nursing 
her with my own hands when she was sick and giving her 
of the best I had ; that afterwards, when you stole her from 
me, Prince, I sinned deeply to win her back. That I married 
her and sinned yet more deeply to give her the greatness she 
desired ; and at last, of my own will, I loosed the bonds by 
which I held her, although I could not thrust her memory 
from my heart. Yet I have earned it all, for I made her 
the tool of my witchcraft, and therefore it is just that she 
should turn and rend me. Well, if you like it, take her 
counsel. Prince, and let mine go, for I care nothing which 
you take ; only, forgive me if I prophesy once more and for 
the last time — I am sure that Nodwengo yonder spoke truth 
when he bade your herald tell you that he who causes my 
blood to flow shall surely die and for it be called to a strict 
account. Prince, I am a Christian now, and believe me, 
whatever you may do, I seek no revenge upon you ; having 
been myself forgiven so much, in my turn I have learned to 
forgive. Yet it may be ill for that man who causes my 
blood to flow." 

*' Let him be strangled," said a captain who stood near by, 
" and then there will be no blood in the matter.'* 

** Friend," answered Hokosa, "you should have been not' 
a soldier but a pleader of causes. True it is that then the 
prince will only cause my life to fly, but whether that be a 
smaller sin I leave you to judge." 

" Keep him prisoner," said another, ** till we learn how 
these matters end." 

** Nay," answered Hafela, ** for then he will surely outwit 


us and escape. Noma, what shall we do with this man who 
was your husband ? Tell us, for you should know best how 
to deal with him." 

** Let me think," she answered, and she looked first at the 
ground beneath her, next around her, then upwards toward 
the skies. 

Now they stood at the foot of the koppie, on the flat top 
of which grew the great Tree of Doom, that for generations 
had served the People of Fire as a place of execution of their 
criminals, or of those who fell under the ban of the king or 
of the witch-doctors. Among and above the finger-like 
fronds of this strange and dreadful-looking tree towered that 
white dead limb shaped like a cross, which Owen had pointed 
out to his disciple John, taking it to be a sign and a promise. 
This cross stood out clear against the sinking moon. It 
caught Noma's eye, and a devilish thought entered into her 

** You would keep this fellow alive ? " she said, ** and yet 
you would not suffer him to escape. See, there above you is 
a cross such as he worships. Bind him to it as he says the 
Man whom he worships was bound, and let that dead Man 
help him if he may." 

The prince and those about Noma shrunk back a little in 
horror. They were cruel men rendered more cruel by their 
superstitious fear of one whom they believed to be uncanny ; 
one to whom they attributed inhuman powers which he was 
exercising to their destruction, but still this doom seemed 
dreadful to them. Noma read their minds and went on 
passionately : — 

" You deem me unmerciful, but you do not know what 
I have suflfered at this wizard's hands. For his sake and 
because of him I am haunted. For his own purposes he 
opened the gates of Distance, he sent me down among the 
dwellers in Death, causing me to interpret their words for 
him. I did so, but the dwellers came back out of Death with 
me, and from that hour they have not left me, nor will the^ 


ever leave me ; for night by night they sojourn at my side, 
tormenting me with terrors. He has told me that through 
my mouth that spirit whom he drew into my body prophesied 
that he should be * lifted up above the people \ Let the pro- 
phecy be fulfilled, let him be lifted up, for then perchance 
the ghosts will depart from me and I shall win peace and 
sleep. Also, thus alone can you hold him safe and yet shed 
no blood." 

" Be it so," said the prince. " When we plotted together 
of the death of the king, and as your price, Hokosa, you 
bargained for the girl whom I had chosen to wife, did I not 
warn you that this witch of many spells, who holds both our 
hearts in her little hands, should yet hound you to death and 
mock you while you perished by an end of shame ? What did 
I tell you, Hokosa ? " 

Now when he heard his fate, Hokosa bowed his head and 
trembled a little. Then he lifted it, and exclaimed in a clear 
voice : — 

** It is true. Prince, but I will add to your words. She 
shall bring both of us to death. For me, I am honoured 
indeed in that there has been allotted to me that same end 
which my Master chose. To that cross let my sins be 
fastened and with them my body." 

Now the moon sank, but in the darkness men were found 
who dared to climb the tree, taking with them strips of raw 
hide. They reached the top of it, four of them, and seating 
themselves upon the arms of the cross, they let down a rope, 
the noose of which was placed about the body of Hokosa. 
As it tightened upon him, he turned his calm and dreadful 
eyes on to the eyes of Noma and said to her : — 

" Woman, I do not reproach you ; but I lay this fate upon 
you, that you shall watch me die. Thereafter, let God deal 
with you as He may choose." 

Now, when she heard these words Noma shrieked aloud, 
for of a sudden she felt that the power of the will of Hokosa, 
from which she had been freed by him, had once more fallen 


Hoko&a if. lifted up. 



upon her, and that come what might she was doomed to 
ohey his last commands. 

Little hy little the soldiers drew him up and in the dark- 
ness they bound him fast there upon the lofty cross. Then 
they descended and left him, and would have led Noma with 
them from the tree. But this they could not do, for always 
she broke from them screaming and fled back into its 

Then, seeing that she was bewitched, Hafela commanded 
that they should bind a cloth about her mouth and leave her 
there till her senses returned to her in the sunlight — for none 
of them dared to stop with her in the shadow of that tree, 
since the odours of it were poisonous to man. Also they 
believed the place to be haunted by evil spirits. 




The sun rose suddenly over the edge of the cliiTs, and while 
it was yet deep shadow in the valley, its red light struck 
upon the white cross of perished wopd that towered above 
the Tree of Doom and on the black shape of Hokosa crucified 
to it living. The camp of the king saw and understood, and 
from every throat of the thousands of men, women and children 
gathered there, went up a roar of rage and horror. The king 
lifted his hand, and silence fell upon the place; then he 
mounted on the wall and cried aloud : — 

** Do you yet live, Hokosa, or is it your body only that 
those traitors have fastened to the tree ? " 

Back came the answer through the clear still air: — 

**I live, O King!" 

** Endure then a little while," called Nodwengo, ** and we 
will storm the tree and save you." 

** Nay," answered Hokosa, *'you cannot save me; yet 
before I die I shall see you saved." 

Then his words were lost in tumult, for the third day's 
fight began. Desperately the regiments of Hafela rushing 
across the open space, hurled themselves upon the fortifica- 
tions, which, during the night, had been strengthened by the 
building of two inner walls. Nor was this all, for suddenly 
a cry told those in front that the regiment which Hafela 
despatched across the mountains had travelled up the eastern 
neck of the valley, and were attacking the position in their 
rear. Well was it for Nodwengo now that he had listened 
to the counsel of Hokosa, and, wearied as^his soldiers were. 


had commanded that here also a great wall should be 

For two hours the fight raged, and then on either side the 
foe fell back, not beaten indeed, though their dead were 
many, but to rest and take counsel. But now a new trouble 
arose : from all the camp of Nodwengo there went up a 
moan of pain to Heaven, for since the evening of yesterday 
the spring had given out, and they had found no water 
wherewith to wet their lips. During the night they bore it ; 
but now the sun beating down on the black rocks with fearful 
force scorched them to the marrow, till they began to wither 
like fallen leaves, and already wounded men and children 
died, while the warriors cut the throats of oxen and drank 
their blood. 

Hokosa hanging on his cross heard the moaning and 
divined its cause. 

"Be of good comfort, children of Nodwengo," he cried; 
*' for I will pray that rain be sent upon you." And he lifted 
his head and prayed. 

Now, whether it was by chance or whether his prayer was 
heard, who can say ? At least it happened that immediately 
thereafter clouds began to gather and to thicken in the blue 
of Heaven, and within two hours rain fell in torrents, so 
that every one could drink his fill, and the spring being 
replenished at its sources, flowed again strongly. 

After the rain came cold and moaning winds, and after the 
wind a great gloom and thunder. 

Now, taking advantage of the shadow, the regiments of 
Hafela renewed their attack, and this time they carried the 
first of the three walls, for its defenders grew feeble and few 
in number. There they paused a while, and save for the 
cries of the wounded and of frightened women, the silence 
was great. 

** Let your hearts be lifted up ! " cried the voice of Hokosa 
through the silence ; '' for the sunlight shines upon the plain 
of the Great Place yonder, and in it I see the sheen of 


spears. The impi travels to your aid, O children of Nod- 

Now, at this tidings the people of the king shouted for 
joy ; but Hafela called to his regiments to make an end of 
them, and they hurled themselves upon the second wall, 
fighting desperately. Again and again they were beaten 
back, and again and again they came on, till at length they 
carried this wall also, driving its defenders, or those who 
remained alive of them, into the third entrenchment, and 
paused to rest awhile. 

" Pray for us, O Prophet who are set on high ? '* cried a 
voice from the camp, ** for if succour do not reach us speedily, 
we are sped." 

Before the echoes of the voice had died away, a flash of 
lightning flared through the gloom, and in the light of it 
Hokosa saw that the king's impi was rushing up the 

" Fight on ! Fight on ! " he called in answer. ** I have 
prayed to Heaven, and your succour is at hand." 

Then, with a howl of rage, Hafela's regiments hurled 
themselves upon the third and last entrenchment, attacking 
it at once in front and rear. Twice they nearly carried it, 
but each time the wild scream of Hokosa on high was heard 
above the din, conjuring its defenders to fight on and fear 
not, for Heaven had sent them help. They fought as men 
have seldom fought before, and with them fought the 
women and even the children. They were few and the foe 
was still many, but they listened to the urging of him whom 
they believed to be inspired in his death-agony upon the 
cross above them, and still they held their own. Twice 
■portions of the wall were torn down, but they filled the 
breach with the corpses of the dead, ay ! and with the bodies 
of the living, for the wounded, the old men and the very 
women piled themselves there in the place of stones. No 
such fray was told of in the annals of the People of Fire as 
this, the last stand of Nod wen go against the thousands of 


Hafela. Now all the shouting had died away, for men had 
no breath left wherewith to shout, only from the gloomy 
place of battle came low groans and the deep sobbing sighs 
of warriors gripped in the death-hug. 

" Fight on I Fight ou ! " shrilled the voice of Hokosa 
on high. ** Lo ! the skies are open to my dying sight, 
and I see the impis of Heaven sweeping to succour you. 
Behold I " 

They dashed the sweat from their eyes and looked forth, 
and as they looked, the pall of gloom was lifted, and in the 
golden glow of many- shafted light, they saw, not the legions 
of Heaven indeed, but the regiments of Nodwengo rushing 
round the bend of the valley, as dogs rush upon a scent, 
with heads held low and spears outstretched. 

Hafela saw them also. 

** Back to the koppie," he cried, " there to die like men, 
for the wizardries of Hokosa have been too strong for us, 
and lost is this my last battle and the crown I came to 
seek ! " 

They obeyed, and all that were left of them, some ten 
thousand men, they ran to the koppie and formed themselves 
upon it, ring above ring, and here the soldiers of Nodwengo 
closed in upon them. 

Again and for the last time the voice of Hokosa rang out 
above the fray. 

" Nodwengo," he cried, ** with my passing breath I charge 
you have mercy and spare these men, so many of them as 
will surrender. The day of bloodshed has gone by, the fray 
is finished, the Cross has conquered. Let there be peace in 
the land." 

All men heard him, for his piercing scream, echoed from 
the precipices, came to the ears of each. All men heard 
him, and, even in that fierce hour of vengeance, all obeyed. 
The spear that was poised was not thrown, and the kerry 
lifted over the fallen did not descend to dash away his life. 
** Hearken, Hafela ! " called the king, stepping forward 


from the ranks of the attackers. ** He whom you have set 
on high to bring defeat upon you charges me to g^ve you 
peace, and in the name of the conquering Cross I give peace. 
All who surrender shall dwell henceforth in my shadow, nor 
shall the head or the heel of one of them be harmed, 
although their sin is great. One life only will I take, the 
life of that witch who brought your armies down upon me 
to burn my town and slay my people by thousands, and 
who but last night betrayed Hokosa to his death of torment. 
All shall go free, I say, save the witch ; and for you, you 
shall be given cattle and such servants as will cling to you 
to the number of a hundred, and driven from the land. Now, 
what say you ? Will you yield or be slain ? Swift with 
your answer; for the sun sinks, and ere it is set there must 
be an end in this way or in that." 

The regiments of Hafela heard, and shouted in answer as 
with one voice : — 

** We take your mercy, King ! We fought bravely while 
we could, and now we take your mercy, King ! " 

** What say you, Hafela ? " repeated Nodwengo, address- 
ing the prince, who stood upon a point of rock above him in 
full sight of both armies. 

Hafela turned and looked at Hokosa hanging high in 

** What say I ? " he answered in a slow and quiet voice. 
** I say that the Cross and its Prophet have been too strong 
for me, and that I should have done well to follow the one 
and to listen to the counsel of the other. My brother, you tell 
me that I may go free, taking servants with me. I thank 
you and I will go — alone." 

And setting the handle of his spear upon the rock, with a 
sudden movement he fell forward, transfixing his heart with 
its broad blade, and lay still. 

** At least he died like one of the blood-royal of the Sons 
of Fire ! " cried Nodwengo, while the armies stood silent 
and awestruck, " and with the blood-royal he. shall be buried. 


Lay down your arms, you who followed him and fought for 
him, fearing nothing, and give over to me the witch that 
she may be slain." 

" She hides under the tree yonder ! " cried a voice. 

** Go up and take her," said Nodwengo to some of his 

Now Noma, crouched on the ground beneath the tree, 
had seen and heard all that passed. Perceiving the captains 
making their way towards her through the lines of the 
soldiers, who opened out a path for them, she rose and for 
a moment stood bewildered. Then, as though drawn by 
some strange attraction, she turned, and seizing hold of the 
creeper that clung about it, she began to climb the Tree of 
Doom swiftly. Up she went while all men watched, higher 
and higher yet, till passing out of the finger-like foliage she 
reached the cross of dead wood whereto Hokosa hung, and 
placing her feet upon one arm of it, stood there, supporting 
herself by the broken top of the upright. 

Hokosa was not yet dead, though he was very near to 
death. Lifting his glazing eyes, he knew her and said, 
speaking thickly : — 

** What do you here. Noma, and wherefore have you 

*' I come because you draw me," she answered, ** and 
because they seek my life below." 

'* Repent, repent ! " he whispered, '* there is yet time and 
Heaven is very merciful." 

She heard, and a fury seized her. 

" Be silent, dog ! " she cried. ** Having defied your God 
so long, shall I grovel to Him at the last ? Having hated 
you so much, shall I seek your forgiveness now ? At least 
of one thing I am glad — it was I who brought you here, and 
with me and through me you shall die." 

Then, placing one foot upon his bent head as if in scorn, 
she leaned forward, her long hair flying to the wind, and 
cursed Nodwengo and his people, naming them renegades 


and apostates, and cursed the soldiers of Hafela, naming 
them cowards, calling down upon them the malison of their 

Hokosa heard and muttered : — 

" Kor your soul's sake, woman, repent ! repent, ere it be 
too late ! " 

" Repent ! " she screamed, catching at his words. *' Thus 
do I repent ! " and drawing the knife from her girdle, she 
leant over him and drove it hilt-deep into his breast. 

Then with a sudden movement she sprang upwards and 
outwards into the air, and rushing down through a hundred 
feet of space, was struck dead upon that very rock where the 
corpse of Hafela lay. 

Now, beneath the agony of the knife Hokosa lifted his 
head for the last time, crying in a great voice : — 

** Messenger, I come, be you my guide," and with the 
words his soul passed. 

"All is over and ended," said a voice. " Soldiers, salute 
the king with the royal salute." 

** Nay," answered Nodwengo. ** Salute me not, salute 
the Cross and him who hangs thereon." 

So, while the rays of the setting sun shone about it, 
regiment b)^ regiment that great army rushed past the 
koppie, and pausing opposite to the cross and its burden, 
they rendered to it the royal salute of kings. 

Then the night fell, and thus through tho power of Fa'th 
that now, as of old, is the only true and eflicicnt ma , 
was accomplished the mission to the Sons of Fire of the 
Saint and Martyr, Thomas Owen, and of his murderer and 
disciple, the Wi/ard Ilokosa. 





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